It’s the first stages of budget planning for the Bryan County Board of Education. School Finance Director Melanie James has started working on the budget handbook for the upcoming fiscal year and the board was presented with staff recommendations and funding priorities during a called meeting on Thursday, Feb. 28.
"The budget timeline will end in June and we involve a lot of people in the process between now and then," James said. "Tonight we begin with funding priorities, such as principal requests that aren’t in normal school allocations."
Over the next several months, the board will have periodic called meetings to continue working through the budget process. The total budget will be put together in May, giving the board a month between their review and the final adoption.
James said principals’ requests were received Jan. 31 and have been reviewed and prioritized.
"A budget priority means it’s a bigger ticket item that doesn’t fit into a school’s individual budget allotment. It would never be a personnel item," Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer said.
The upcoming priorities for the 2008-2009 school year will include carpet replacement at Lanier, science equipment at BCHS and a new machine for the RHMS custodians for floor cleaning.
While Brewer said the budget planning won’t get down into specific details until later this year, increasing gas prices will likely be one of the issues the budget faces.
"We start out with personnel and staff, we don’t get to transportation costs until April or May when we do the first summary," she said. "Last year, we had to make a considerable increase to fuel costs within the budget and it will probably go up again this year."
In personnel needs, Brewer said she was using this meeting to provide examples and recommendations to the board.
"We can later address specific amounts," she said. "These are just some things to think about before we add up the whole budget."
Here’s what Brewer recommended the board consider:
- Another half-time assistant principal will need to be added to RHHS; Brewer said the required number of administrators necessary for each school is dictated by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
- The teacher advisory committee made a recommendation that the board consider raising the amount for the district’s 16 department heads from $500 to $700 per year.
- Brewer recommended adding another nurse, to be shared between RHMS and RHHS to help with increased numbers of students.
"Those are the schools where we seem to need additional assistance, because we have more health issues there. It would be on a morning/afternoon split schedule for each school," she said, noting she would also like to give a $1,000 raise to each nurse within the district and give an additional $500 a year to any nurse who’s been with the district for at least five years.
- A new position for a technology support assistant in South Bryan County was recommended, to supplement the technology specialist position.
- Several schools will require additional secretaries. "We basically give schools one secretary and clinical person in the office per 400 students. Several of the schools will need another secretary next year, based on the numbers," she said, noting the request is for five additional secretaries overall.
- The 401(k) plan for the district’s staff may be changed next year. "Currently, we match 1 percent and I’m recommending we pay 2 percent, if the staff member pays 3 percent," Brewer said.
Associate Superintendent John Oliver also presented the board with staff requests for all grades, K-12.
"Obviously, our board is going to do what is necessary and we understand that, so do our principals. This is to give preliminary numbers, based on student projections for next year," he said.
In considering the requests, the current numbers of students was rolled forward for the 2008-2009 school year – so the current number of juniors was the number used for next year’s seniors, and so on.
"These numbers are exactly current for right now, but were rolled up to the next grade in anticipation for next year," he explained. "This is not a projection; it does not include any new children and is only based on what is current."
Here were the staff recommendations:
- On the elementary level, while Oliver said BCES may need to make some adjustments, they won’t require any additional teachers.
- As in previous years, the recommendation for RHPS is for one additional teacher and two additional teachers at RHES, as well as one additional gifted teacher for RHES.
"We’re on the bubble at the end of this school year and we’ve identified more gifted children that will need to be served next year," he said.
- Carver will also need one additional 4th and 5th grade teacher, bringing the total addition of certified staff members on the elementary level to six.
- In the middle and high schools, Oliver said there will be no significant increase in BCMS other than one additional teacher each for 6th and 7th grades, and a remedial teacher to serve as a reading specialist. There were no recommended additions for BCHS.
- There was a recommendation at RHHS for extended day teachers, as well as academic teachers for math, social studies, science, foreign language, fine arts, physical education and drivers’ ed.
"The total, at this point, is not final because we’re still working on additional needs in special education," Oliver said. "That’s nine, and one half-time position in the middle and high school levels, which means an addition of 16.5 people. They’re going to cost at least $1 million all together."
Brewer said the additions are much like last year’s, but may require some tweaking at the beginning of the next school year.
"We do pre-registration for kindergarten but we have no way knowing of who will leave and who will move in, so this is the way we’ve always done it each year. Sometimes we have to add another teacher in the beginning of the year, but we don’t usually know until about 10 days into the new school year," she said. "It’s a system that has worked very well for us. The funding amount has increased a little bit each year because of the state salary increase. Last year there was 3 percent increase and this year it was 2.5 percent."
Oliver said a combination of both state and local funding will pay for the additional staff requirements in the district. Brewer said during their next budget planning meeting, they’ll talk more about space and how many available portables they will have access to.