Modest growth continues at Marshall County schools where a total for the student body probably won't be known until after Labor Day, the schools director said as he and the board of education were finalizing a budget for this year.
"At this point, it is up from last year," Director Roy Dukes said at his desk at the central office on Jones Circle. "I really don't think there's a likelihood of enrollment going down. It's hard to predict... I've never seen the total go down."
Dukes' records reflected enrollment as of Aug. 13 and Sept. 1, and showed an increase of about 50 pupils over last year's number.
"We'll have another increase after Labor Day because we have people come in after that Tuesday," the director said.
Enrollment figures are important to school systems because they're part of a state funding formula for the Basic Education Program, Tennessee's major law on school funding.
"It's how the BEP funds are allocated to the school systems," Dukes continued.
Meanwhile, Dukes has received a circular from the Tennessee Department of Education on how federal jobs bill money can be spent. He called it a "preliminary list of what it could be used for."
"The jobs bill was put in place for where systems lost teachers," Dukes said of legislation signed by President Obama on Aug. 10. "What we're looking for are guidelines on what we can use it for, so if we get it, we won't have to pay it back."
Receiving such federal funding and then spending it on expenses that are not covered by the original purpose of the federal funding could result in refunds, he said.
So, are there school jobs in Marshall County that were cut which could be funded by the jobs bill?
"We didn't lose teachers other than those who retired," Dukes said several days before the school board voted to eliminate a teacher's job at the alternative school.
Asked at that point, would no jobs bill money be available to the county, Dukes replied, "No, it will bring money to the county. I have to see when it starts."
He also noted that the school system must have a new teacher at Chapel Hill Elementary School, but that money had been budgeted for that position.
"It would be great" if that elementary teaching position could be paid this school year with federal money, he said.