Board of Education Forced to Make Cuts in Proposed New School Budget

August 14, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night adopted a revised school budget for the 2007-2008 this fiscal year, making $113,274 in cuts from the previous proposed budget passed on June 26th and submitted to the county budget committee for approval.

The proposed cuts will be made in the categories of legal services- $15,000, liability insurance- $18,694, workman's compensation insurance- $45,280, natural gas- $16,800, building and contents insurance- $10,000, diesel fuel- $5,000, and vehicle and equipment insurance- $2,500.

Funds for proposed pay raises for school system employees and new positions will not be cut.

The spending plan, with expenditures totaling $17-million ,059-thousand, 026 dollars, is based on the proposed local property tax rate for schools of 57 cents per $100 of assessed value, a cut of 16 cents from last year. However, the county plans to give back to schools an amount equivalent to 16 cents from the local option sales tax fund (sinking fund).

Three members of the seven member school board were absent Thursday night which meant all four members present had to vote unanimously to adopt the amended budget. However the vote was only 3 to 1 for passage. Board members Johnny Lattimore, Joan Draper, and Kenny Rhody voted in favor while board member Charles Robinson voted no.

Realizing that the vote failed, Chairman Lattimore called for a recess. After the meeting was recalled to order, Robinson reluctantly changed his mind and decided to vote for passage of the amended budget. In a prepared statement, Robinson expressed his concern that the county commission is not willing to give schools more money. "The original budget proposed called for no tax increase using figures provided by the county mayor. Every year, when we as a board come to this process, we must look at the future of education. Far too many times, we take steps backwards or march in place. We must march forward. I am realistic. I know we can't afford a Cadillac school system, but we should be able to have a loaded Ford. The county commission cut property taxes 20 cents and 16 cents (of the cut) is from education. Mr Willoughby has stated that these proposed cuts will not affect students."

The Board of Education previously requested in local taxes $3-million 834-thousand 900 dollars, however the county commission will only agree to fund in local taxes $3-million 694-thousand, 357 dollars for schools, a difference of $140,543 dollars. However, the school board has added back $27,269 from State Basic Education Program funds to keep the actual budget cuts at $113,274.

Total revenues for schools comes to $16-million 405-thousand 226 dollars versus total expenditures of $17-million 059-thousand 026 dollars. To make the budget balance, the school board plans to appropriate $653,800 of the Basic Education Program Reserves

The budget includes a state salary increase for certified personnel of 3%; an increase for teachers based on their years of service as per state scale; an increase for those who have earned a degree advancement as per scale; and a local increase in the teacher salary as per scale. Teachers with six to ten years of service would get a local increase for the year of $150. Those with 11-15 years would get a local raise of $200. Teachers with 16-20 years can expect a $250 raise. Those with 21-25 years would get an increase of $300 and teachers with 26 years of service or more would get a local pay raise of $400. Elementary and Secondary Principals, Assistant Principals, and Supervisors would not get a local pay raise this year.

The budget includes a local 3% pay raise for support staff as well as a local step increase as per scale. One lead custodian per school would receive a 25 cent per hour increase and one lead maintenance worker would be paid based on the mechanics pay scale, giving him a pay raise. Support staff would be allowed to use two sick leave days per school year as personal days if needed. However, they would receive no additional days.

Golf and Tennis Coach positions at DCHS would receive an additional $1,000 in supplement pay.

Pay scales would be rounded, as presented.

Social Security and Medicare percentage rates will remain the same; the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System retirement percentage for certified staff will increase to 6.24%, with no increase in the retirement percentage for support staff.

Medical insurance costs are budgeted to increase by 10% and the cost to update the school web site would be $1,000.

The budget includes $80,000 for two additional teaching positions at DCHS for the freshman academy; $80,000 for two extra teaching positions if needed; $40,000 for one teaching position needed at Smithville Elementary School; $80,000 for two teaching positions needed at Northside Elementary School; and $20,000 to increase a half time English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching position to a full time position.

Under the special education program, the budget includes $40,000 for one additional teaching position at DCHS; one vision position retained in the budget; one speech language position retained in the budget; and additional costs have been included for anticipated Leave of Absences and possible degree advancements.

The budget includes $20,000 for one county wide Attendance Clerical position and an increase in benefits for a support staff position.

The spending plan includes a Coordinated School Health Grant of $90,000 for a coordinator, a clerical position, along with benefits and supplies.

An increase has been figured into the budget for increased utility costs, supplies, fuel, etc.

The amended budget will be presented to the county budget committee for approval. The county commission is scheduled to adopt the new budgets and set the property tax rate on Monday, August 20th at 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Director of Schools Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel to the board Thursday night.

Those employed for the 2007-2008 school year since last month include:

Shelly Painter, Guidance Counselor at DCHS. She replaces David Gash who transferred to an Assistant Principal position at DCHS; Amelia Phillips, cafeteria worker at Smithville Elementary School; Wendy Green, Educational Assistant; Rebecca Satterfield, Educational Assistant in Special Education at DCHS; Lynn Pichey, substitute teacher and or substitute cafeteria worker; Barbara Johnson, teacher at DeKalb Middle School in Special Education. She replaces Joe Ruch who resigned; Melissa Thurman, Educational Assistant in Special Education at DeKalb Middle School. She replaces Dee Dee Miller who resigned; Heather Cornelius, Educational Assistant at Northside Elementary School; Jennifer Agee, Educational Assistant at Smithville Elementary School. She replaces Cathy Beltz who resigned; Dianne Page, Educational Assistant at DeKalb Middle School; Trent Colwell, Special Education Assistant at Northside Elementary School; Clay Dickerson, Math teacher at DCHS; Eric Helton, Math teacher at DCHS; Lori Page, English teacher at DCHS; Daniel Seber, Special Education teacher at DCHS; Renee Beaty, teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Michael Crockett, teacher at Northside Elementary School; Jenny Stephenson, teacher at DeKalb Middle School 6th grade Social Studies, Nathan Thomason, football assistant; Linda Vickers, cafeteria worker at DeKalb West School; Amy Fletcher, English as a Second Language (ESL) Educational Assistant; Kenderly Cripps, Educational Assistant at DCHS; Lillian Purnell, Teacher of Pre-School at Smithville Elementary School (a new position-newly funded in the Pre-K program); Dee Anna Persinger, School Health Coordinator (a new position-newly funded by a state grant); and Samuel Vantrease, DeKalb Middle School Football Assistant.

Transfers are as follows:

Annie Walker, Educational Assistant, transferred to the Regular Pre-School Program at Smithville Elementary School; Layra Crook, Teacher, transferred to Smithville Elementary School Pre-School; Penny Bilyeu, Teacher, transferred from DCHS to the Special Education Pre-School at Smithville Elementary School; Carrie Lee, Teacher, transferred from Special Education Pre-School to a regular teaching position at Smithville Elementary School; Beth Pafford, Teacher, transferred to a regular first grade position; Misty Franklin, Teacher, transferred to Kindergarten. She replaces Lynda Luna who retired; and Amy Young, Teacher, transferred to Pre-School at DeKalb West School.

Resignations:

Dorothy Fay Adkins, custodian at Northside Elementary School

Leave of Absence, as requested, Kimberly Crook, 4th grade teacher at DeKalb West School.

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