Outlay Of $45.5M
Made Possible In
Part By Increase
In Property Tax
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Board of Education gave final approval to the 2012-2013 budget for the school system, including $45.5 million in revenues balancing the same amount in expenditures.
A 20-cent county property tax increase approved earlier this month by the Greene County Commission designates 15 cents for education.
State law mandates that these funds be split between the local school systems based on average daily attendance. That division typically equals about 70 percent/30 percent between the county schools and the Greeneville City Schools, respectively.
Director of County Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk announced Monday that 70 percent of the 15 cents would draw an additional $1.38 million in the coming year for the school system.
Of that, $1.19 million will balance the system's deficit and another portion will provide 2 percent raises for the system's classified (non-teaching) employees.
In addition, Kirk said she anticipates additional revenue that she and Budget Director Mary Lou Woolsey have budgeted for instructional supplies, library books, and capital projects.
The tax increase also allows the board to avoid proposed cuts to balance the deficit, including eliminating athletics and closing Glenwood Elementary School.
Throughout the meeting, faculty, staff and board members expressed appreciation to the County Commission for further funding the system.
"I would like to thank all citizens of this community, and this county, for the sacrifice that they've made with having to pay additional money -- property-owners and anyone else," Chairman Roger Jones said.
"We're going to work hard to make sure we stand true to that."
REPORT ON TCAP
The school board met at 5 p.m. at the Central Office on Summer Street and heard a number of reports in addition to voting unanimously to approve the budget.
High School Supervisor Wayland Seaton and K-8 Supervisor Debra Jo Boles presented information recently released by the Tennessee Department of Education concerning 2011-2012's Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP).
Under the state's federal waiver, each school system was able to set individualized goals for target areas.
The Greene County School system met its goals in grades 3-8 reading, grades 3-8 mathematics, third-grade reading, third-grade math, seventh-grade math, and English II, but did not meet goals in seventh-grade reading and Algebra I.
In addition, despite some gains for every subgroup -- including racial/ethnic, economically disadvantaged, and students with disabilities -- the gap between achievement levels for these subgroups and achievement for students overall did not decrease.
This goal is especially difficult, many noted, because the subgroups must increase achievement at a faster rate than the overall rate in order to decrease the gap.
Jones noted that this is a "pretty unrealistic" goal set by the state and federal government.
Kirk added, however, that the system is putting a number of measures in place for this school year to try to close this gap.
The board also heard the monthly director and budget report, in addition to a report by Brenda Freshour on federal changes to the requirements for meals served in the cafeteria.
Assistant Director of Schools Dr. Judy Phillips also provided an update on enrollment, which she said was down slightly from last year at just over 7,000 students.
Monday's meeting was the last for board member David Johnson, who did not run for re-election in the August 2 races.
He served for four years and was chairman when Kirk took her current position as chairman, she noted.
The board recognized both Johnson and deceased board member Claude "Junior" Weems Jr., who died earlier this year following a farming accident.
WEEMS FAMILY ATTENDS
The board presesnted a plaque to the family of Weems, a 10-year board member, expressing their appreciation for what they said had been Weems' warm heart, inspiring life, and dedication to education.
Weems' widow, Janet, and their children, Bryan Weems and Shari Weems-Cook, accepted the plaque and emphasized his love for serving the children of Greene County.
Jones, who referred to Weems as one of the greatest men he had ever known, also noted that the new Freshman Academy at West Greene High School will be named in Weems' honor.
Doing so will not require any school funds, even in the purchasing of the plaque, Jones noted, because of many donations from the community.
COSTS FOR ESP
In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve a number of items, including costs for the Extended School Program, including:
* Morning rates are $1.75 daily, $8.75 weekly for one child, and $3 daily, $15 weekly for two or more children.
* Afternoon rates are $8 daily, $40 weekly for one child, and $12.50 daily, $62.50 weekly for two or more children.
All pay the same rates for mornings only, but afternoon rates for those on free or reduced lunch are $6.50 daily, $32.50 weekly for one child, and $8.50 daily, $42.50 weekly for two or more children.
* Full-day rates are $13 daily, $65 weekly for one child, and $20 daily, $100 weekly for two or more children.
Full-day rates for those on free or reduced lunch are $11.50 daily, $57.60 weekly for one child, and $13.50 daily, $67.50 weekly for two or more children.
The resolution notes that any time school is dismissed prior to 11:30 a.m., the charge will be for the full-day rate.
If school is dismissed anytime between noon and 2 p.m., then the charge will be for the afternoon rate, plus an additional $2.50.
A partnership between McDonald Elementary School and the Niswonger Foundation also received unanimous approval and some praise by the board.
The Tennessee Department of Education recently named McDonald a "Focus" school because its student test scores fell within the 10 percent of schools in the state with the largest achievement gaps between groups of students.
The proposed partnership calls for a focus on literacy achievement, with a total of $92,800 spent to provide professional development, technology and curriculum materials to the school.
The Niswonger Foundation will provide $51,100 of this amount, with the school and system matching $41,700, according to the resolution.
The board approved the following:
* various policy revisions recommended by the Tennessee School Board Association to coincide with recent legislation;
* the 2012-2013 Extended Contract Proposal;
* a Carl Perkins Reserve Grant Budget, which is being used to create career pathways and match electives to local career opportunities;
* a high school fee chart;
* implementation of a standards-based report card for grades kindergarten through second for this school year;
* the Race to the Top budget;
* minor revisions to the "academic coach" job description; and,
* volunteer coaches.
Finally, the board voted to not attend the annual Tennessee School Board Association Convention as a whole, but to allow individual members to attend at their own expense, if they so desire.
The board will meet again at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27 in the board room at the Central Office.