|‘Snapshot of county schools’ presented at HEED meeting |
|Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2012 10:36 am |
Weakley County Director of Schools Randy Frazier has launched an effort to emphasize the situation faced by the school system in the upcoming fiscal year.
County commissioners (from left) Jack Vincent, Eric Owen and Dale Overton
Frazier was joined, once again, by data coordinator Betsi Foster, to reiterate to the county’s Health, Education and Economic Development Committee last week the tough budget that will impact teachers and the system as a whole.
Frazier and Foster offered the same presentation to the county’s Finance, Ways and Means Committee days before.
Their presentation was titled “ A Snapshot of Weakley County Schools.” The purpose of the presentation was to inform the committee on the current progress of the school system, and to also show the committee what changes were occurring within the budget and why they were occurring.
Foster spoke on the academic achievements of the school system. According to Foster, last year, Weakley County ranked 1st among county systems in West Tennessee in grades 3-8 Reading, 3rd in grades 3-8 Math, 5th in class size, and 2nd among all school districts in West Tennessee in average ACT scores. There are 36 school districts in West Tennessee, and only 20 county systems.
The Weakley County School System earned “Grade A- Exceptional” on the Tennessee Report Card, which shows the Tennessee K-6/Elementary School Effectiveness. That is based off the Yearly Achievement Gain 2009-11, and compares 752 Elementary schools.
Frazier gave an update on the Weakley County School System budget.
“From my seat, we’re looking at the toughest budget that the Weakley County Schools have had since 1992,” said Frazier. “1992 was a time when we were the most divided we’ve ever been in our county, because of funding issues. This year we are in that same picture with our budget.”
“Things are tight, funding has been cut, and we’re looking at a lot of folks losing jobs and a lot of cutbacks this year that we’re not very proud of.”
State allotment for grades 1-3 is one teacher per 20 students, grades 4-9 is one teacher per 25 students, and grades 10-12 are one teacher per 22.08 students. According to Frazier, the student to teacher ratio is lower than the state’s allotment.
“If we operated on what the state told us that we had to operate on, then I would be going to Westview tomorrow, on top of what I’m already cutting, and cutting five teachers at Westview, four at Martin Middle, four at Dresden high, four at Dresden Middle, three at Dresden Elementary,” said Frazier.
“We couldn’t function at all of our high schools if we cut all of those employees, and I don’t think that’s what’s best for our students or system.”
In 2008-09, there were 375.5 teaching positions at Weakley County Schools, but the projections for 2012-13 would allow for 351.3 teaching positions.
“Drop in enrollment has been a part of that, and the increase in cost of everything else,” said Frazier.
“There’s not a lot of places that you can cut, but out of a $30 million budget, about 83 percent of that is salaries and benefits. There’s not a lot built in there that we can cut.”
Some of the future funding needs include purchasing new buses, roof replacement, HVAC replacement and repair, purchasing new technology, and keeping teacher salaries competitive.
“It’s not a good time to be superintendent; it’s not a good time to be a principal,” said Frazier. “You affect people’s livelihoods. $700,000 that we’re cutting- that’s money spent in Weakley County.”
“I think we all should be proud of what we have, and where we stand with the school system. It’s the most important thing we have going, and it’ll be the most critical thing that we have to make our county be progressive in the future.”
The HEED Committee traditionally meets before the Weakley County Finance, Ways, and Means Committee. However, due to schedule conflicts with the Finance, Ways, and Means Committee members, the meeting was moved to the day before the HEED Committee meeting.
Although many of the budget transfers and resolutions were similar to what was covered at the Finance, Ways, and Means Committee, the business was more specific to health and education. Budget transfers deal with funds being moved within the designated department, while budget resolutions deal with funds being moved between the departments.
Some of the budget transfer requests were from the Weakley County Office on Aging Director Gail Rogers, Weakley County Election Commission, Director of the Weakley County Library Candy McAdams, Director of the Weakley County Ag Extension Jeff Lannom, and Director of the Weakley County Health Department Tim James.
The committee also considered and passed several resolutions that the Finance, Ways, and Means committee had covered.
Resolution 2012-33 authorized budget amendments to the School Federal Projects Fund for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2012, and adjusted the Jobs Bill Grant monies.
Resolution 2012-35 authorized budget amendments to the General Fund for the Weakley County Election Commission. Resolution 2012-37 authorized acceptance of a grant for the Weakley County Public Records from the State of Tennessee.
Resolution 2012-39 authorized budget amendments to the General Fund in order to install a new roof on the Weakley County Courthouse, and to help fund the cost of installing a new well at the Everett Stewart Regional Airport.
The resolutions will now be passed onto the meeting May 29 of the full Weakley County Commission when it meets at 5:15 that afternoon in the Weakley County Courthouse.