We didn’t have room for this story in this week’s issue.
BY BRIAN JONES
At their regular September 13 meeting, the Lowndes County School Board discussed their fund balance, tabled their meeting policy and approved installing two mobile classroom trailers at Caledonia.
[There was also a presentation about the district’s test scores, but I’m omitting that from this account. See my test score story in this week’s Packet. – Brian Jones]
Jacqueline Gray asked for a discussion of the district fund balance. She suggested it was too high, and needed to be reduced.
“The state department requires 7 percent (of our budget) be in the fund balance,” Gray said. “We have 15 percent. That’s extreme. I’d like to see us bring that down.”
“I think we were at 10 percent, were we not?” asked Jane Kilgore.
“Our board policy requires 8 percent,” Gray said.
“The 15 percent is a recommendation,” said Business Manager Lotis Johnson. “That’s a recommendation by experts within the education field. The state department recommends around 10-15 percent.”
“The state department requires 7 percent,” Gray repeated.
“Right,” Johnson said. “That’s the law. But they recommend going above and beyond and keeping it between 10 and 15.”
“I would consider 10, but I think 15 is extreme,” Gray said.
“I like 15,” Kilgore said. “The more in the bank, the better.”
“I have a problem keeping that much in the bank when we know we need more teachers,” Wesley Barrett said. “The principal at New Hope High School said he needs two more reading teachers. Surely we can dip into it for that.”
“How about 12 percent as a compromise?” asked President Bobby Barksdale.
Gray asked that the matter be tabled until next month so she could do more research.
No action was taken.
[I wrote last month that I think this is unacceptably high. While I think it’s great the county is keeping a tight hold on the purse strings, this is going too far. That is taxpayer money. I don’t think it’s right that county residents be squeezed just so their money can sit in a bank account somewhere. Put that money to work or lower your mills. – Brian Jones]
The board tabled their new meeting policy. They will now hold one meeting per quarter at one of the campuses on a Monday evening.
The policy must lay on the table until the board’s next meeting before approval.
The next meeting will be one of the campus visits, scheduled for October 7 at 5:30 p.m. at Caledonia High School.
[As I said before, I think this is a great move. I hope county residents will come out to these meetings. – Brian Jones]
The board approved leasing two temporary classroom trailers at Caledonia Elementary School.
Superintendent Lynn Wright said the classrooms are necessary due to increasing enrollment. However, he was not able to answer board questions about what classes would be using the new space.
“What classes are going to be in these (trailers)?” Barksdale asked.
“It will be used at the elementary school,” he said. “(Principal Roger Hill) will be moving some classes into that building, but it will not be pre-kindergarten. Right now there are 200 kindergarten students. They’re up a lot. There are 28, 29 students per class in kindergarten.” “I think we should have details,” Gray said. “We need to know what class or how many. You need to be able to tell me.”
“I just know right now at the rate they’re growing they are picking up students all along,” Wright said. “We can survive with two right now, but we may need to add more by Christmas. They’re crowded right now, and we need to do something.”
“You still never answered my question, you just talked around it,” Gray said. “You need to be prepared to answer questions. How much are these going to cost us?” “The cost is around $95,000 for two years for four classrooms,” Wright said. “They have two classrooms each.”
The trailer lease was approved 4-0, with Gray abstaining.
“I don’t feel like I have enough information,” she said.0