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BOE struggles with next year’s budget

With another budget year nearing, the Washington County Board of Education held a workshop this month to further discuss some budget restraints they are faced with for the upcoming year.
Director of Schools Ron Dykes said the Race to the Top funds are beginning to dwindle. Next year, he said, they will have $181,000 left to operate the same programs for which they had $325,000 in the current year.
Four new expenditures, amounting to $512,000, were discussed. These expenditures are necessary to obtain the current initiatives academically, according to Dykes.
There are two Race to the Top positions that need to be filled in English language arts and math, which amounts to $92,000. “We are short that much,” Dykes said.
A $130,000 formative assessment program is also among the list of new expenditures. Dykes said it is a software program that assesses students at any point during an academic year and determines effectiveness of instruction.
“This program also could determine their skill deficits,” he said. “Right now we are caught sort of in limbo between the current standards that exist and the common core implementation.”
This program, according to Dykes, will become available at some point next year.
Another concern regarding this program is filling a technology position, which will cost $50,000. The district currently does not have the manpower to cover the technical needs for the current infrastructure, which has been increased as a result of the need for an assessment for common core and instructional technique.
“We are to the point where we are running in deficit mode trying to keep up with repairs and maintenance, much less the addition of technology,” Dykes said.
Board Member Clarence Mabe said it is a “no brainer” that they are going to have to beef up in that department to take care of the demand.
The last of the new expenditures are four intervention positions amounting to $240,000.
Dykes said those positions help the district maintain its academic position.
“To maintain what we have now and add four areas I have mentioned, that is the decision facing you,” he said.
The last decision the board is faced with is the salary distribution for 643 certified personnel the district is paying.
“The state has adjusted the categories,” Dykes said of the salary schedule.
The new schedule, he said, is going to be extremely difficult to implement because more pressure is now placed on the local level at every school district to make up the financial difference.
“Your savings is going to come in your annual steps,” Dykes said. “These are all essentially unfunded mandates. The state simply says you have to have the intervention. How you do it is up to you. This is very expensive for us locally when the state provides salary increases. It is certainly warranted, but the burden is based on local funding.”
The state salary schedule increases the base salary of $30,420 by $570 for a bachelor’s degree with one to five years of experience; a $3,190 increase with six to 10 years of experience; and a $6,585 increase for 11 to 15 years of experience. An advanced degree increases the base salary of $3,415 for one to five years experience; $7,030 for six to 10 years of experience; and $10,890 increase for 11 to 15 years of experience.