School officials have unanimously marked mandated expenses and teacher supplements as high priorities in the 2005 to 2006 school system budget. What the next most important need is, however, has caused debate.
â€œThe needs always exceed the resources,â€ said Superintendent Jim Watson.
School board members ranked their top priorities and learned the priorities of other groups at their Building and Finance Committee meeting Monday night.
Principals, senior leadership, the Teacher Advisory Committee and three school improvement teams representing elementary, middle and high schools were also polled.
â€œThat literally represents well over 100 people who went through the process,â€ said Watson.
Mandated expenses were ranked first across the board. The $325,000 would go to accommodate growth, utility needs and salary increases.
â€œThat sort of keeps the boat afloat,â€ said Watson. â€œIt doesnâ€™t add anything. It doesnâ€™t take anything away.â€
Teacher supplements unanimously took second place. The $150,000 allotted would help recruit and retain teachers.
The Board of Education also ranked instructional supply money for science, maintenance workers and two custodians for middle schools as high priorities.
The cost of the top 10 needs ranked highest by the board total over $1 million.
â€œWeâ€™re simply identifying needs,â€ said Watson. â€œThat does not mean we are requesting this from the county commissioners.â€
Included in that $1 million would also be fourth grade tutors, art teacher, music teacher, increased technology budget, Pre-K program and second grade assistants.
All second grade classes in the county used to have assistants.
â€œThe state cuts came and hit us hard with our second grade assistants,â€ said Watson. â€œThatâ€™s something thatâ€™s still on the table.â€
Joan Avery, a board member, ranked second grade assistants as her top priority after mandated expenses and teacher supplements.
â€œOur priorities should be focuses on academics where no child is left behind when they go to middle school,â€ she said.
Second grade assistants was the most expensive item on the priority list at $483,000.
â€œBenefits add 30 percent to the cost,â€ said Watson.
Board member Tommy Houser also took on a cause â€“ adding a Physical Education teacher to the list of priorities. Houser expressed concern about increased obesity in children.
by Sarah Grano