Committee hopes kids can go to national contests

Friday, May 8, 2009

Money must be found to send local high school students to the national contests they have qualified for, even though the trips cost more than what's in the budget.

This will be the recommendation of the budget committee to the school board. Budget committee chairwoman Kristen Gold explained that it has been Marshall County policy to pay 90 percent of the cost of sending high school students to national contests.

"If that's what our policy says, that's what we should do," said Gold.

"I think they should go," said Randy Perryman.

"Tell them to pack their bags," enthused Mike Keny.

Only Craig Michael struck a sour note, saying, "What's our policy for dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression?"

Three Marshall County High School students have qualified to compete at the national Beta Club competition in Orlando, Fla. in June, and one from Cornersville High School is going all the way to Anaheim, Calif. for the Future Business Leaders of America competition, also in June. Three thousand dollars is in this year's budget for such trips, but the total cost this summer is estimated at $5,000.

The budget committee will have a separate meeting in the near future to discuss supplements paid to coaches and club sponsors.

"They have been fixed for about 10 years," said Michael. "The coaches get the same regardless of experience."

"We need to evaluate what we are paying supplements for," Gold said.

"Look at club supplements," said budget director Janet Wiles. "We are inconsistent. I can get the principals' input, and get a list of the supplements. I would set a budget meeting just for that."

Wiles made a "very preliminary" report on budget numbers. Money has been saved by not hiring an attendance supervisor, by hiring less-experienced school nurses who command lower salaries, and by spending less on instructional supplies and equipment.

Less has also been spent on maintenance equipment, and the department has been getting by with fewer people. Diesel and tires have also cost less than budgeted.

"I think we're going to be about $50,000 under," said Wiles.

"Yes," said Stan Curtis, director of schools, "Maintenance, transport, and the principals have done a good job of trimming costs."

Requirements for using federal stimulus money are still being finalized, but Curtis anticipates Marshall County schools could get $590,000 to spend over the next 27 months.

"We'll have at least a $300,000 reduction in the budget for next year," Curtis said.

Even with the stimulus money, the school board will need to ask the County Commission for more money for the next budget year.

" What's the right way to go about it?" asked Michael. "What's our thought on how to proceed with the commission? What's the right way to approach them?"

"It's tough to know how to proceed," Gold said. "We need to let them (the commissioners) know everything that's important. Let's try to set up a meeting with the education committee and explain some of the new mandates so they can understand what we have to work with. Understanding is the starting point."

"Remember," said Wiles, "You can't cut maintenance and capital outlay forever. At this point there's no support for any increases, but we're trying not to cut any positions."

"We have to schedule meetings from here on out," said Gold. "The next one will be specifically on the supplement schedule, plus any up-dated numbers."

The committee's next meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 12.