New technology and offsetting less dollars from state are bulk of request

Last updated: April 14. 2014 10:33AM - 797 Views
By - abulluck@civitasmedia.com

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At the April 7 regular meeting of the Ashe County Board of Education, the board unanimously approved requesting approximately $5 million from the county government for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The funding, if received, will be for operational expenses and capital improvements.

Superintendent Dr. Todd Holden and Associate Superintendent Phyllis Yates met with County Manager Sam Yearick last week to discuss the details of the request. According to Holden, the meeting lasted about two hours and was productive.

“He was receptive,” Holden said. “He was hoping it would be less.”

Holden was hoping the figure would be less too, but the school system is facing a series of fiscal challenges due to shortfalls and loss of funding.

ACS is facing a $309,491 (20 percent) shortfall in Small County Funding in 2015. The school system also won’t have access to $120,000 in Race to the Top funding and they have no idea how much money they’ll get from the state.

Another fiscal issue facing the schools is that while the N.C. Department of Public Instruction is requiring more professional development classes for teachers and staff in the public schools, the state isn’t paying for it.

“The state is increasing professional development and giving us more unfunded mandates,” school board member Terry Williams said at last month’s board retreat and budget work session.

“You can’t have teachers paying for their own professional development,” Williams said. “They don’t make enough as it is.”

Last year, ACS received $4.2 million from the county.

According to Yates, speaking at last month’s budget work session, all schools expressed a desire to maintain current levels of funding in the next fiscal year.

The following is a school by school breakdown of what the schools seek to do with money in next year’s budget:

Ashe County High School

Much of the improvements planned for the high school are targeted for the gymnasium and physical education department.

Replace seven worn-out doors.

Replace the sound system in the gymnasium. The current system is 15 years old. The schools currently use an independent contractor for large events at $600 per hour.

• Build a handicap ramp out of the back of the band room to provide for better handicap access into the building, as well as to create a ramp for band students to transport large equipment in and out of the building.

• Replace rusted lockers in the gym locker room.

Purchase two new floor scrubbers. The current scrubbers were purchased 14 years ago.

Ashe County Middle School

Most of the improvements planned for ACMS are safety-related.

Create diagonal parking in front of the school to create a better flow of traffic on and off campus.

Add glass windows for six doors to see into classrooms.

Replacement of rubber treads on the steel stairs on the eighth grade hall.

Blue Ridge Elementary

Most of the improvements are structural and technology related.

Replace old, worn-out furniture in seven 3rd and 4th grade classrooms. Furniture in 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th grade classrooms have already been replaced.

Additional IT cart added to inventory.

Mountain View Elementary

Most of the improvements are technological and staff-related.

Permanently increase the receptionist position to 12 months. There are no other 12-month employees at the school other than Principal David Blackburn and the custodial staff. According to Blackburn, the 4-H and summer feeding programs require extra staff.

• Additional IT cart added to inventory.

Westwood Elementary

Most of the improvements are technological and staff-related.

Additional IT cart added to inventory.

• Asking for 25 new projectors and mounts to replace ones from 2004, the parts of which are no longer available.

• Permanent employment of data manager and bookkeeper for an additional two weeks.

The schools’ budget request is now in the hands of Yearick who will present his proposed county budget to the board of commissioners on May 19.

Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.

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