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School board adds $2 million to budget

The Washington County Board of Education approved nearly $2 million be added to the 2014-2015 school budget during a called meeting on April 29.
Director of Schools Ron Dykes provided an update regarding the Basic Education Program formula. He said there doesn’t seem to be very much interest in changing the formula, and he suspects it will require some type of litigation to change.
Finance Director Beverly Thomas said the first allocation from the state funding is being decreased by $279,000, which is partially based on losing students. The district will receive further allocations in May, June and July.
Dykes said the governor did not include the 2 percent raise in the budget, which was the original intent. The total expenditures for certified salaries and support salaries is $1,289,000.
Dykes said the last superintendent study council meeting he attended, regarding the 2 percent raise, had 17 school districts represented.
“I have not found one school district moving forward with 2 percent, except perhaps Kingsport City. They were absent that day,” he said.
Dykes said there is no assistance from the state for the two percent salary increase, which means the expenditure is just hanging out there.
“It’s going to require in essence local revenue to be able to cover that,” he said.
The board also discussed a few new items to be added to the next budget year. Those include a grant writer, two positions for Race to the Top, the formative assessment program, two positions for the technology department, four intervention positions, one maintenance department position and three vehicles totaling $702,000.
Dykes said most of the grant writing is currently accomplished by such systemwide personnel as current supervisors, teachers and building level administrators. He said the time consuming task is more often than not left without results.
“We have spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours trying to apply for a district level Race to the Top grant,” he said, consuming six to eight weeks of two of the district’s curriculum course personnel in conjunction with the rest of the staff. The effort did not receive any results.
The position of a grant writer, Dykes said, will certainly pay for itself, as well as bring valuable assets to the system.
The district has inadequate funding for two of the Race to the Top positions, due to the district using money over the last three years to fund the positions. Dykes said $92,000 represents the amount of money still needed to cover the positions.
The formative assessment program, which is allotted for $130,000, is crucial for implementation of common core standards, according to Dykes.
“It is desperately needed for our teachers to be able to assess the status of our children,” he said.
The common denominator for closing education gaps and continuing achievement and growth with the school district has been intervention.
“We find it extremely valuable,” he said of the intervention positions. “It is going to be difficult for us to maintain current gains without addition of an interventionist.”
The four positions are allocated for $240,000.
Since the current maintenance staff oversees 1.5 million square feet, which amounts to 75,000 square feet per maintenance support, the district is looking to hire one additional person, which is allocated for $50,000.
The budget, including items needed for curriculum, maintenance and technology support and a 2 percent salary increase amounts to just under $2 million. The board approved the amount to be added to their 2014-2015 budget.
The board also approved work at David Crockett High School and Daniel Boone High School tracks into next year’s budget.
Board Member Todd Ganger was the only one who opposed both motions.