Thursday, May 13, 2010
A news report from Bulloch County Board of Education meetings
Prior to the meeting Bulloch County Probate Judge Lee Deloach officially swore in Vernon Littles as the new District 5 Board Representative. Littles will serve out Dr. Charles Bonds' unexpired term through December 31, 2010. Littles and other interested candidates will then run for the post in the November 2010, elections with the successful candidate taking office in January 2011.
The District will host a Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing workshop at Statesboro High School June 2 - 3. More than 200 educators from Bulloch County and surrounding school systems will be in attendance. The workshop is primarily funded with Title I funds, and our teachers who attend will receive a $150 stipend for both days.
Langston Chapel Elementary School Principal Karen Doty recognized Matthew McKendrick, a fifth grader who has completed five Fast ForWord products this year raising his reading level 2.7 years.
Langston Chapel Elementary's physical education teachers, Tracey Hattan and Scott Palmer, showed a video presentation on how they use technology with P.E. students. The school system has been the recipient of two PEP grants that have enabled the elementary schools to purchase Playstation, Wii, DanceDanceRevolution, electronic pedometers, stair steppers and other modern fitness equipment to create a variety of "Techno Fitness Centers."
Superintendent Holloway announced that the May 27 Board Meeting would be a work session dedicated to the 2011 budget and that all principals and department heads will be present. Holloway stated that the natural attrition of employees is still guiding our budget decisions as the system seeks ways to balance the budget for fiscal years 2011-2014. Superintendent Holloway then asked Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance Charles Wilson to give an update on both the budget and construction of new schools and athletic facilities.
Wilson reviewed the current general fund budget situation reminding the Board of current revenue reductions that include a $7.5 million cut to the District's state QBE funding and sales tax collections, which though now rising slightly, its three-year downward trend reduced revenues nearly $1 million. With state revenues comprising 65 percent of revenues, this has resulted in a combined budget shortfall of $3.5 million for FY '10 - FY ‘12 despite the more than $5.3 million in budget reductions the District has made. The FY '10 and FY '11budgets continue to be moving targets due to unforeseen state budget reductions that to date have totaled eight. For FY '11, the District is budgeting for state revenues that are uncertain. As a result, the District's long-term strategy will continue to be cost reductions.
Personnel makes up 88 percent of the general fund budget, so one way the Board is reducing general fund budget costs is through attrition. The District is now seeking to attrition 102 teaching positions through 2014, up from the earlier projections of 73 positions.
For 2010 and 2011, the District is on track to attrition 50 positions. To this point they have occurred natural with an almost equal amount of resignations and retirements, but according to Wilson, after 2011, it will become more difficult. The District could face a situation that to maintain an effective staff level in our elementary schools, the Board would have to hire teachers in that area, whereas in the middle and high school levels, attritions may be below the projected staffing formula. The District has saved $3.3 million with these attritions. Superintendent Holloway has met with each principal, and each understands whether his/her school is over or under staffed. Nine openings for the upcoming school year have been filled internally through voluntary transfers.
In addition to attrition, Wilson pointed to several additional areas to further reduce expenditures by more than $900,000. Those include the following: Sharing JROTC services between Portal Middle High School and Statesboro High School, moving the Performance Learning Program back to the high schools, the District's $20,000 contribution to the County to administer the 4-H program, custodian uniforms, Board travel reimbursements, and First District RESA.
Wilson also spoke of potential revenue options. One temporary solution is to again impose six, mandatory furlough days for all employees which generate $1.6 million. The dates for 2010-2011 are July 26-28, January 3-4, and June 1. These are previously scheduled pre/post planning and in-service days, so they do not affect student instructional days. A Board member voiced that furloughs unfairly place the burden of the District's education funding needs on the teachers rather than the taxpayers and that furloughs should only be used as a temporary solution.
Wilson noted that should the Board decide to increase the current millage rate, a decision would have to be made by July in order to become effective for FY '11. A half-mil of tax would generate $870,000 of revenue and increase property taxes by $20 per $100,000 in property value.
Whereas the general fund budget continues to be severely affected by the local and state economy, the Board is finding it an economical time to continue its capital improvement plan for new schools, athletic facilities and technology upgrades. These are funded by a separate capital fund budget that receives its revenues from local education special local option sales tax collections (ESPLOST).
Wilson presented a construction update on Julia P. Bryant, Mattie Lively, Portal Middle High School and five athletic facilities. The new Julia P. Bryant Elementary School is on schedule, and staff will move in late July. Once school is out, the old JPB will be cleaned to temporarily accommodate Mattie Lively Elementary School. The old MLES is scheduled for demolition on August 15.
For the new Portal Middle High School, its demolition date of June 15 is crucial in order to complete utility connections to the new school and begin parking lot construction prior to the new school year. The parent drop-off and visitor parking areas of the new school will not be complete until October 1 and the current student parking lot will be overlaid November 1.
For the athletic facilities, the first project (the Statesboro High School Gym renovation) will begin May 13 in order to complete the project for use in fall 2010. Other projects include renovating the Portal Middle High School Field House, the SHS Field House, and the old Southeast Bulloch High School Gymnasium for a field house. Construction on the new SEBHS football stadium, track and concessions facilities will begin November 1 with a scheduled completion of May 31, 2011.
With the Board reviewing several areas for potential cost reductions, many parents and students were on hand to voice their opinions and concerns about the Performance Learning Center, the Portal JROTC program and the old Portal Gym.
The administration is planning to return the Performance Learning Program to its respective high schools that, now with three new, larger facilities, can accommodate the program's space and technology needs and still give the 83 students and six faculty the independent, non-traditional campus atmosphere that they feel is required for success. Instruction, curriculum and class sizes will remain the same. The move would also give the students access to the full-range of elective courses not available at the current location. The change would save the District more than $186,000. Those in opposition wish to keep the program at the William James Complex and independent from the high schools.
The Portal JROTC program has lost one of the U.S. Army-required two instructors. With the District in staff attrition mode, the administration has been faced with the decision to either replace the position or bus Portal JROTC students to Statesboro High School for these classes. Those in opposition feel busing the students to SHS will affect participation and that the program would lose its Portal identity.
The agenda called for the Board to vote on demolishing the old PMHS Gym after months of discussion and meetings with parents and the school's council. After input from several citizens, the Board decided to table its motion to demolish the old gym pending further discussion with the community.
Policy JDA Revision (Corporal Punishment)
At its April 15 meeting the Board placed on the table a proposal to revise the District's Policy JDA - Corporal Punishment pending parent input and discussion. After these considerations the Board voted to keep corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the schools and amend its policy to require a same-gender witness, require both parent and student permission, and to inform the witness beforehand as to the reason for the punishment.
Business and Computer Science Textbook Purchases
This item was placed on the table at the April 15 meeting. At last night's meeting the Board approved the textbook purchase for the Career Technical and Agriculture Education (CTAE) Department.
Software Support Renewal Bids for 2010 - 2011
The Board approved a previously-tabled request from the Information & Technology Department to approve the annual maintenance and support renewal contracts for the 2010-2011 school year for the District's anti-virus, Compass Odyssey, Web Filter and Crisis Communications System.
The Board gave its consent to approve the following: (1) a fundraiser for Portal Middle High School; (2) Board minutes from the April 15 regular session and the April 22 special work session; (3) the April Board payroll; (4) and the March 2010 financial reports.
Items for Approval
The Board approved the following items: (1) a proposal for Thin Client PC Devices which will reduce our fiber-optic cable needs at the new Julia P. Bryant Elementary; (2) a proposal to implement a free, School Loop Web site content management system for the District and all its schools; (3) the interior designs of the new Julia P. Bryant and Sallie Zetterower Elementary Schools for $43,000 each, which is covered in the construction contingency fund budgets for the schools and funded by the Capital Fund Budget via ESPLOST; (4) the NWEA online renewal of Measures of Academic Progress for $97,000.
Items to Place on the Table
The Board placed the following items on the table pending further discussion: (1) a proposed new policy for data dissemination which would allow us to charge for information requests that require labor to scan and email documents; and (2) a proposal for computer desktop/laptop workstations.
When the Board returned from executive session, they voted to approve hiring the law firm of Edenfield, Cox & Bruce to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court the Fulton County Superior Court's ruling for the Georgia Charter Schools Commission