|School system facing ‘tough’ fiscal budget |
|By: Mary Jean Hall, Special to The Press |
|Posted: Friday, May 11, 2012 9:34 am |
At least 12 teachers are expected to be cut from the Weakley County School System this year due to rising costs within the budget. These budget cuts, along with other business, were discussed at the Weakley County School Board meeting on Thursday at Greenfield School.
Weakley County School Board members (from left) Doug Sims, Steve Vantrease and Barbara Trentham, Jeff Perkins and director of schools Randy Frazier were faced with unsettling information Thursday evening during their regular meeting.
During the meeting, director of schools Randy Frazier discussed the long-time financial situation for Weakley County.
“My colleagues say that 2012-2013 will be the toughest budget year we’ve had since 1992, and in looking at ours, I can see that,” said Frazier. “Because of loss of enrollment and decreasing funds, we’re looking at a minimum of 12 teachers being removed from our teaching staff, and we’re still looking at some other cuts.”
Frazier announced that the county school system has lost students for two or three years now. Also, the county has seen a rise in expenses. Insurance costs are increasing by nine percent, and fuel costs increased by about $70,000.
The school system is looking at a minimum of a $750,000 difference between the budget last year and this year. According to Frazier, the school system has been operating on the same amount of tax dollars.
“I know the economy’s tight, but we need to have a good plan of what our long-term goals for the county are, and our school system,” said Frazier.
“I think we can say for many years, Weakley County has got their bang for the buck when you compare our performance with the amount of dollars that we do receive- we go above and beyond.”
“It will be a tough year budget wise, but we will get through it, and we’ll make the best decisions we can that will benefit our communities and our students,” said Frazier.
“Any time you have those cuts, unfortunately, the worse part of it from my seat and the principal’s seat, you’re talking about livelihoods of people. That’s never an easy decision.”
Other business discussed at the meeting included announcements, and a proposal by Dr. Gwin Anderson of Dresden.
The board approved the Federal Project Application and budgets for the 2012-2013 school year under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. This application included Title I-Part A, Title II-Part A, Title III-Part A, and Title IV, and Consolidated Administration.
Part of this would cut two teaching positions from the budget, but three specialist positions would be added.
Dr. Gwin Anderson of Dresden made a request of the school board. Anderson proposed a partnership between the City of Dresden and the Weakley County School Board in order to build facilities for the youth of Weakley County.
The facilities would be used for athletic purposes, such as soccer and baseball fields. The request was made for the school board to partner with the City of Dresden in a project that would build these facilities.
Anderson said the school board’s part of the deal would not be financial. Instead, it would be in allowing the land behind the middle school to be used for the project.
“We want to use the land you don’t need,” said Anderson. “We’d like to pull people together with an interest in what we want to do.”
Anderson said it would be easier to obtain grants for the project if the two entities were working together. The title of the land used would stay with the Weakley County Schools.
“We have a need,” said Anderson. “If it (the facility) was there, it could provide for the students.”
Weakley County School Board Chairman Gordon Morris announced that the school board had completed written evaluations on Frazier as the director of schools.
With about 50 questions in five different categories, Frazier averaged 4.8 or 4.9 out of 5 in each category, with five being significantly above expectations.
“The evaluations reflect the opinions that people on the board have about how good of a director we have, and we are very pleased that he is our director,” said Morris.
“We encourage him to keep doing what he has been doing, because he has been doing an excellent job.”
The next meeting of the Weakley County School Board will be June 7 at 5 p.m. at the Department of Education meeting room in Dresden.