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Union-North Superintendent Wants Balanced Budget

April 1, 2011

04/04/11 Union-North United Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Barker is determined to balance the budget for the school system. Barker said, “I’m making a commitment to the board and the community. We are only spending what we take in.”

Early in the meeting Barker said, “We’re not doing any tax anticipation warrants.”

During the meeting, the board voted unanimously to shift funds between accounts to make money available to monthly expenses. Funds will be moved among the Rainy Day Fund, Bus Replacement Fund, and the General Fund. Barker reiterated that all of the funds would be paid back by December 31, of this year. He told the board that there would be payments in September, October, November and December to have every fund     repaid.

During the pubic hearing on the matter, patron Everett Garrett expressed his opinion that funds designated for various building projects recently completed or that are in the process of being completed were being used outside of the projects. Barker replied,” We are not using building dollars for anything other than building expenses.”

Dr. Barker reviewed some of the staffing modifications or changes that are being considered to reduce some class sizes in both the elementary building and the Jr.-Sr. High School. Barker had made a number of decisions last year, including reductions in the number of staff members, to help in balancing the budget. Barker indicated that the measures being considered would mean that the largest class at the elementary level would be a ratio of 26:1. He explained that staffing at the upper level depends upon the interest from students. At this point, a main consideration is hiring a full-time assistant principal at the high school. Currently, LaVille Elementary and Jr.-Sr. High School share an assistant. Barker suggested that there is a considerable interest in the art program that could require having two teachers for the program. In reviewing the needs for mathematics instruction, Barker said the EOC (End of Course) assessments are “high stakes”. He said they still have federal stimulus funds that must be spent by 2012 that could be applied to the math offerings. LaVille Jr.-Sr. High School Principal Chuck Philips said that there could be three math labs added. He said, “These are not study halls, but just a different way of teaching math.”

Barker indicated that there could be a position for an in-school suspension aide to help keep kids in school.

No board action was required since the matter was listed on the agenda as a discussion item.

As a follow-up to the discussion from the board meetings two weeks ago, Barker spoke to considerations for shifting from a text based curriculum to a technology based curriculum. At the last meeting, Barker, Philips, and Technology Director Mike Sumpter talked about the possibility of providing students with laptops. On Thursday night, however, Barker said they are looking into the use of iPads or Zoom models as well. He said they were looking into other possibilities rather than getting into contracts for devices that could be antiquated in two years. He said, “I’d rather be in the front edge.” He said, “The 40 pound backpack has to go. We are moving away from being tied to at textbook and even moving away from the four walls.”

Carol Anders Correspondent