School Board Seeks Funding for Construction and Roofing Projects in New Budget

May 8, 2012
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

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

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, in an interview with WJLE Friday, said the proposed 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.

According to Willoughby, the school board will also seek in the proposed new budget $850,000 in local funds for renovation and expansion of the kitchen/cafeteria area of DeKalb West School; a proposal to re-roof DeKalb Middle School (87,000 square feet), to re-roof DeKalb West School (45,000 square feet); and to re-roof a portion of Smithville Elementary School (8,000 square feet); funding for a new special education teacher at DeKalb West School; a new math teacher at DCHS; an assistant band teacher, an assistant high school soccer coach, two extra teaching positions (one for kindergarten and one for sixth grade) if needed due to enrollment; and funds to put custodians on twelve month contracts instead of the current ten month contracts. Willoughby said the state has approved a 2.5% pay raise for certified personnel. The school board will also include a 2.5% local pay hike for support staff. "The 2.5% will be fully paid for the support staff by the county," said Willoughby. "But the state will pay for all BEP (Basic Education Program) positions. We have about twenty four BEP positions above BEP (requirements) so we would have to pick up that 2.5%," said Willoughby.. The school board further seeks an increase of $300,000 in capital outlay funds and $11,000 to fully fund a JTPA (Jobs Training Partnership Act) intervention/counseling position previously funded partly through a UCHRA grant.

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.

The proposed 15,000 square foot addition, to be built in the front of the existing school, calls for eight classrooms, restrooms, a new secure entrance, an office, clinic, conference room, guidance and teacher work area. The new addition is meant to not only provide more classroom space and better shelter in the event of storms, but to make the school more secure.

Although a new larger DeKalb West School cafeteria and kitchen do not qualify under the FEMA grant, the architects have included in the design an expansion of the existing dining area, which would have to be funded locally.

DeKalb West School, which opened in 1974, was built for 320 students. The current enrollment is 445 plus faculty and staff.

The school board will meet in regular monthly session Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Board of Education building.

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