DWS Building Project, Re-Roofing Needs Addressed in School Board's Tentative Budget

May 11, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education adopted a tentative budget for the 2012-13 school year Thursday night to be presented to the county commission's budget committee.

The spending plan outlines funding options for a building project at DeKalb West School and re-roofing needs at three schools, including a possible bond issue. The budget also includes pay raises and the addition of a few positions.

The local property tax rate for schools would not be increased under this spending plan.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said he and County Mayor Mike Foster have been in budget discussions trying to come up with a workable plan that would be accepted by both the school board and the county commission. "A few weeks ago you (school board) gave me permission to work with Mr. Foster. We have worked together in several different meetings to get a budget where we would not have to ask for a tax increase. Mr. Foster said there is a possibility they (county) may do a bond issue (for DWS project) and he is going before his board (county commission) with the same packet (tentative budget) that you have. I do want to thank Mr. Foster for working with me," said Willoughby.

Before the vote Thursday night, Director of Schools Willoughby gave a summary of new spending in the proposed budget and items which have been dropped.

The tentative budget includes:
A state approved 2.5% pay raise for teachers.
A 2.5% increase for teachers along with the regular step increases and degree advancements
A local 2.5% increase for support staff along with the regular step increases per salary schedule
An increase of 9% for projected health insurance costs
The addition of one math teacher at DCHS
The addition of two extra teaching positions (one for kindergarten and one for DMS sixth grade) if needed due to enrollment (currently unassigned)
Putting custodians on twelve month contracts instead of the current ten month contracts
Replacing Bookkeeping Computers for the School Bookkeepers
Additional costs in Special Education due to contracted services
Normal increases for utilities, transportation fuel, and for supplies

Items dropped from the proposed budget:
The addition of an assistant band teacher
The addition of an assistant soccer coach
Eliminating the Drivers Education Class

The food service budget, which is self supporting, includes a 2.5% increase for support staff with step increases as per salary schedules. The central office bookkeeper under food service will go from an 11 month to a 12 month position. Assistant cafeteria managers, called upon to serve in the absence of a cafeteria manager, would receive a quarter per hour more than their cook position.

The spending plan calls for $600,000 in local funding to meet a 12.5% FEMA grant match for building eight tornado "safe rooms" at DeKalb West School.

During the April school board meeting, Director Willoughby announced that the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency had approved grant funds of more than $1.5 million for the safe room project at DeKalb West School, pending final approval by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. No final word has yet been received on the grant.

To provide local matching funds for the classroom addition at DeKalb West School, and for the renovation of the kitchen/cafeteria, Director Willoughby said two options are being considered. Under one plan, the local grant match ($600,000) would be funded from the reserves and fund balance without the bond issue

Under the second option, a bond issue by the county commission would fund the local grant match ($600,000), a cafeteria and kitchen renovation project at DeKalb West School, as well as a re-roofing project at DeKalb Middle School (roof and removal of metal overhang soffit), DeKalb West School (roof and removal of metal overhang soffit and seal off gymnasium), and Smithville Elementary School (8,000 square feet of the roof).

Whichever plan is selected, Director Willoughby said the DeKalb West School project can go forward. "The $600,000 matching money for the FEMA grant is in the budget either way. It is in the budget using our reserves. We will be using $1.3 million in reserves to balance this budget without a tax increase," said Willoughby.

The tentative budget calls for an appropriation of $1,236,824 from school reserves to balance the budget (with a bond issue for the building program) or $1,836,824 without the bond issue.

Meanwhile, in his monthly report on personnel, Director Willoughby announced that the following teachers would be retiring:

Dixie Crook, teacher at DCHS
Harriett Cantrell, teacher at DCHS
Kathy Hendrix, Principal at DCHS
Genrose Davis, teacher at DeKalb West School
Meanwhile Missy Vantrease, Educational Assistant at DeKalb West School will be resigning at the end of the school year.

Leave of Absence
Lori Alexander, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, leave as requested
Suzanne Williams, bus driver, leave as requested
Kenneth Wayne Taylor, custodian at Smithville Elementary School, leave as requested.

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