Davis expresses concern about school budget, staffing

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By The Staff


Morgan County News Editor

Director of Schools Mike Davis has a balanced budget ready to present to the county budget committee, but expressed concern that it may not be realistic.

Davis warned members of the Morgan County Board of Education that the budget proposed for 2008-09 worries him. Davis expects the budget to fall short in some areas including transportation which includes fuel and perhaps even in text books.

In an effort to reduce its transportation budget, the Board will lease a new school bus instead of purchasing it outright. Transportation Supervisor David Armes said he was only able to get the agreement for one bus in order to help the county during the coming year’s budget crunch.

The board also discussed changing to alternative fuel sources and purchasing fuel in bulk to save money. Armes is supposed to gather more information and report back to the Board. Board member Jim Rivers said he believes the county must move in the direction of alternative fuel sources. Randy Harlan is in agreement and has found a biodiesel supplier but Armes pointed out that there has to be a means of fixing the biodiesel and diesel.

The Board has asked Grant Writer Kathy Carroll to search for grants that will enable the county to change its buses over to an alternative fuel.

Davis also warned that he has cut the maintenance budget to the bare bones and has already had the head of that department telling him the budget is not going to work.

“They’re already telling me that it’s not going to work but we’re going to give it our best shot and do what we can with it,” Davis said.

But repairs to buildings may not happen as quickly in the coming year.

“Things that we may have repaired normally may get put off for awhile.”

Davis also spent some time during Monday night’s meeting pointing out yet again how detrimental it will be to the schools to not have a supervisor of instruction. He specifically mentioned specialized training Judy Hurst has received that will help the county to maintain Adequate Yearly Progress and the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act.

According to Davis, Hurst has agreed to pass that knowledge on to school administrators including himself and Assistant Director of Schools Wanda Lane.

Davis asked the Board if they have confidence in his abilities to make financial decisions. He pointed out about $20,000 that can be used if an open maintenance position is not filled and told the Board he would like to use it to compensate Hurst for the work.

There has not been any announcement made at this point where Hurst will be placed but she will have a position within the school system.

Supervisor of Attendance Ronnie Wilson outlined a plan to implement an alternative high school for the Board. Wilson says that salvaging ten students who might otherwise not finish high school will pay for the teacher. Each student brings more than $4,000 to the school system in state funds.

The alternative high school could also help the county meet the graduation requirements now in place.

As Davis talked about the loss of the supervisor of instruction and the constraints of the budget, he said that whatever it takes Morgan County does not want to become a targeted school.

“We have a lot to be proud of and I want to keep it that way.”