School board wants budget from Dukes

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

By the last week of this month, school board budget committee members want the schools director to have drafted a budget for next year. That was their decision Monday night by the end of their meeting.

At the start of the budget process, committee members expressed the intention to stand firm on what's needed for the school system.

"Let's put in what we actually need and not take it out," said Ann Tears. "Then we'll show the county commission we need these people to succeed and to raise our students' scores."

Schools director Roy Dukes told committee members he needed more money for supervisors' salaries and for their in-service training, as well as teachers for Cornersville in math, physical education, and art or music.

Barbara Kennedy asked if a math teacher for Cornersville wasn't in the budget already, and Dukes said no. He was talking about an additional person to fulfill the requirements of the Diploma Project and offer greater variety in math courses.

Dukes told the group that the state would be giving a 1.6 percent raise to teachers covered by the Basic Education Program, but Marshall County would have to find the money for the non-BEP teachers, though he didn't have the actual number of teachers involved at the time of the meeting.

There are increased maintenance needs all over the system from carpet and seats in the Forrest School auditorium to projector bulbs for the technology department, Dukes said. Nearly all the schools' roofs need patching and other repair.

There are a multitude of things to spend money on, and the budget committee is going to have to make some tough decisions, as Kristen Gold pointed out.

"Everything we've talked about is an addition," she said. "We have to look at places to cut."

This was also on Kennedy's mind as she pointed out the Central Office had run for a year on the current organizational chart, and it was time to take another look at it.

"We owe it to the taxpayer to take a hard look at what we have at Central Office," Kennedy said, going on to wonder if some positions need to be reinstated. Tears agreed with her, stating, "We need to get people some help."

"Do we need fewer chiefs and more Indians?" Kennedy asked.

"We have to approve the (organization) chart as a basis for the budget," Gold pointed out.

"Logically, we would do that in May, so we have it as a basis for the budget in June," said committee chairman Donnie Moses.

Kennedy also urged Dukes to supply the budget committee with a list of employees who have 11- and 12-month positions, and the justification for those jobs.

The committee decided to meet again on April 25, and asked Dukes to have an organizational chart and draft budget ready for that date. They also requested that he ensure budget director Sheila Cook-Jones attend the meeting so that she could explain some figures that seemed "oddly high" in a comparison of budgeted versus actual figures for the most recent month.