Needs for next school year get a look

Friday, January 30, 2009

The school board's budget committee got their first look at the list of departmental budget requests and academic needs prepared by department heads and principals at a three-and-a-half hour meeting Tuesday night.

At last month's meeting they saw a list of other needs and wants for the schools, which mostly dealt with repairs to the buildings and new equipment that's needed.

"In many cases, the money needs to be spent, " commented committee member Craig Michael at that meeting, "But it does not affect the classroom. We asked for needs from our leaders and we get a list that has nothing to do with what's going on in the classroom.

"I've seen this in many different businesses," he continued. "People focus on everything but the core purpose."

"Can't we get an academic wish-list?" asked Kristen Gold, the committee chairman.

"Let me go back to the principals in another directive," said Stan Curtis, the Director of Schools. "I'll ask for needs from an instructional/school improvement/learning point-of-view."

The list the group saw Tuesday was a result of Curtis' request to the principals. They also studied reports prepared by Janet Wiles, the budget director, including a comparison of budgeted versus actual expenditures for the year to date. Funds being spent for professional development also came under review.

County commissioner Billy Spivey was the only visitor to the meeting where school board members Todd Tietgens, Dee Dee Owens, Gold, and Michael met with Curtis and Wiles.

Spivey reported that the overall theme of the meeting was saving money. He thought the group worked hard to establish realistic spending plans and said it was a very productive session during which the committee identified areas to focus on and established numerical savings goals.

"Those guys are remarkable with their attention to detail," Spivey said, adding, "I wish my colleagues (the county commissioners) would have the same fervor."

"We have shortfalls coming our way and the school system is going to be ready," he said.

Spivey was very complementary of the school board and its budget committee.

"We're fortunate to have a school board as aware as they are," he said. "They know what information to gather, and they've been willing to spend a tremendous amount of time on the issues."

Prioritized spending recommendations will be prepared by Curtis in consultation with department heads and staff and presented to the budget committee at its next meeting.