New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion boosts its bud­get

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DUANE M. FORD news@cov­news.com

Around this time each year the board of ed­u­ca­tion (BOE) re­views and, if ap­pro­pri­ate, ad­justs the New­ton County School Sys­tem’s (NCSS) an­nual bud­get. Ac­cord­ing to Sa­man­tha Fuhrey, NCSS su­per­in­ten­dent, only a few Ge­or­gia school boards do such mid-year re­views and ad­just­ments.

Tues­day night, the BOE re­viewed its 2016-2017 rev­enue pro­jec­tions, con­sid­ered four op­tions for amend­ing its bud­get and ap­proved one of those op­tions. It was able to do so be­cause state and lo­cal tax rev­enues con­tinue to re­cover fol­low­ing the re­cent re­ces­sion and be­cause the NCSS has a fund bal­ance, or re­serve, of $29.7 mil­lion.

The amended 2016-2017 bud­get will now in­clude one-time fund­ing for a 1 per­cent pay in­crease for all em­ploy­ees (to­tal cost of $1.05 mil­lion); ad­di­tional sum­mer pro­gram­ming ($300,000); science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics (STEM) ini­tia­tives ($100,000); lit­er­acy and math pro­gram­ming ($100,000); and re­place­ment of the re­stroom and con­ces­sion build­ings serv­ing the Al­covy High School out­door fa­cil­i­ties ($350,000).

Bud­get in­creases were also ap­proved to sup­port cur­rent-year costs for new on-go­ing ex­pense items. Specif­i­cally, the BOE added $370,000 to this year’s bud­get to fund a 0.5 per­cent 403B con­tri­bu­tion in­crease for em­ploy­ees in the Ge­or­gia Teach­ers Re­tire­ment Sys­tem. It also added $230,000 to fund two new po­si­tions and a bus in­spec­tion con­tract. The two new po­si­tions are for a re­sponse- to- in­ter­ven­tion/ gifted co­or­di­na­tor and for a Pupil Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment lead me­chanic.

The BOE acted quickly to use its new bud­get line for bus in­spec­tion ser­vices. In a sep­a­rate ac­tion Tues­day, it awarded a con­tract for bus in­spec­tion to Mor­gan Fleet Ser­vices, Inc., of Mon­roe. To­tal cost for the one-year con­tract is es­ti­mated at $103,950. The Pupil Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment op­er­ates 210 buses which are on av­er­age 11 years old.

“Most of the cuts dur­ing the course of the re­ces­sion have had to come from em­ployee pay and ben­e­fits and so it is ap­pro­pri­ate to use these funds to be­gin first by restor­ing pay to em­ploy­ees,” Fuhrey said. “Also, in keep­ing with our plan for in­creased stu­dent achieve­ment, it is nec­es­sary to of­fer sum­mer pro­gram­ming, STEM ini­tia­tives and lit­er­acy and math pro­gram­ming to our stu­dents.”

Since 2014, a to­tal of $19.3 mil­lion has been added to the NCSS bud­get with most of that go­ing to sup­port stu­dent learn­ing and re­store em­ployee salary and ben­e­fits. Last night’s ad­just­ments will add to this to­tal.

Ed­u­ca­tion foun­da­tion awards grants

Also at Tues­day’s BOE meet­ing, the New­ton Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion awarded three mini-grants to fund teach­ing in­no­va­tions within the NCSS.

Ken Meakins, phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tor for Por­terdale El­e­men­tary School, re­ceived a grant for aer­o­bic steps. He will use them to teach stu­dents about car­dio­vas­cu­lar en­durance.

A grant to Heather Hodge, Mid­dle Ridge El­e­men­tary’s teacher of the year, will fund the ad­di­tional equip­ment needed to use a three di­men­sional printer pur­chased with a pre­vi­ous grant. Fourth and fifth grade stu­dents will use the equip­ment and printer to build a ge­o­met­ri­cally ac­cu­rate city. The grant will also sup­port field trips to a co­op­er­at­ing At­lanta ar- chi­tec­tural firm so stu­dents can ob­serve the real-world ap­pli­ca­tions of what they are do­ing in class.

A third grant was awarded to Katie Sauls and El­iz­a­beth Rogers, first grade teach­ers at New­ton County Theme School at Fic­quett (NCTS). The funds will be used to in­stall a chicken coop. Stu­dents will learn about chick­ens, their life cy­cle and hus­bandry, and egg pro­duc­tion.

Test­ing sched­ule

Al­li­son Jor­dan, di­rec­tor of test­ing, re­search and eval­u­a­tion for the NCSS, pre­sented the spring test­ing sched­ule for third through eighth grades to the BOE.

The Ge­or­gia Mile­stones As­sess­ment Sys­tem’s End of Grade (EOG) tests will be ad­min­is­tered dur­ing the week of April 17 to 21. Given the prob­lems ex­pe­ri­enced with the on­line ver­sion of this test, the NCSS has de­cided to ad­min­is­ter only the pa­per ver­sion next spring.

Dur­ing the first two weeks of May, the Iowa As­sess­ments will be ad­min­is­tered. These tests were also ad­min­is­tered this fall. By com­par­ing fall and spring scores, the NCSS will be able to mea­sure each stu­dent’s progress.

Be­cause the NCSS has stopped ad­min­is­ter­ing a few dif­fer­ent tests it had used in pre­vi­ous years, the to­tal num­ber of hours de­voted to test­ing will be less this year com­pared to last year. The EOG takes 10 to 21 hours per stu­dent. The Iowa As­sess­ments takes 3.5 to 4.5 hours per stu­dent.

Other ac­tion

The BOE also ap­proved the fol­low­ing:

Pur­chase of $99,220 worth of com­put­ers and sup­port equip­ment from Dell Mar­ket­ing, Round Rock, Texas for Fairview, Flint Hills, and Mid­dle Ridge el­e­men­tary schools.

Pur­chase of $306,538 worth of phone sys­tem up­grades from In­fin­ity Net­work So­lu­tions, Ma­con, Ge­or­gia for Liv­ingston and South Salem el­e­men­tary schools; In­dian Creek, Cousins, and Cle­ments mid­dle schools; as well as for the NCSS cen­tral of­fice and the Palmer Stone fa­cil­ity.

Re­newal of the an­nual bev­er­age con­tract with Coca-Cola Re­fresh­ments, De­catur, Ge­or­gia.

Dis­posal of sur­plus equip­ment and prop­erty.

Use of fa­cil­i­ties as fol­lows: rented four class­rooms at Palmer Stone to Oxford Col­lege of Emory University for stor­age; waived the rental fee for use of the school cafe­te­ria at NCTS by the New­ton County Min­is­ters Union for its An­nual Com­mu­nity Thanks­giv­ing Meal; and autho­rized the use of ath­letic fa­cil­i­ties at mul­ti­ple schools by the New­ton County Recre­ation Com­mis­sion, an NCSS part­ner.

The BOE’s state and Fed­eral leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties for the 2017 fis­cal year.

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