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School Board approves Federal Projects, General Fund budgets for next fiscal year

By Bill ShortFlag City Logo

On the superintendent’s recommendation, the Millington School Board unanimously approved its Federal Projects and General Fund budgets last week for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Board members took the action last Thursday afternoon during a special called meeting on a motion offered by Louise Kennon and seconded by  Chuck Hurt Jr.
The Federal Projects budget is $1,857,932, and the General Fund budget is $22,567,574. Both budgets must also be approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and included in the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
During discussion before the vote, Dr. David Roper, superintendent of the municipal school system, said the Federal Projects budget has four primary sources of funds. In addition to Titles I, II and III, there is the Individual Disabilities Education Act.
Roper noted that, under the Title program, schools are classified at one of three levels:
(1) ineligible for any Title funds;
(2) qualified for “targeted assistance;” and
(3) qualified for “schoolwide” assistance.
Because of their “higher level of socio-economic status,” Roper said each of Millington’s four schools is qualified for “schoolwide” assistance, which means they are eligible for more funding.
He noted that $1,081,574 of the total federal money that Millington’s schools will receive are Title I funds. They must be used to “supplement” and not “supplant” instructional services to achieve the desired academic outcomes from the students.
Roper said the $111,855 that Millington expects to receive in Title II funds is intended for staff development. It can be used for “teacher and administrator mentoring, stipends, new teacher orientation, board and professional development.”
Citing the $2,889 in anticipated Title III funds, he said that is intended for students for whom English is a second language. And the $613,607 in I.D.E.A. money is categorized as Special Education Grants to States.
Roper said the school system has also applied for and expects to receive $48,007 from the Carl Perkins Vocational Education Basic Grant.
“Some of these federal monies may be adjusted if there are significant shifts in student population as we go through the year,” he acknowledged. “But these are the amounts that we are confident we’re going to be receiving, based on our numbers as we know them at this point.”
Under the estimated expenditures in the Federal Projects budget, Roper said $140,608 is allocated for two additional teachers and $58,445 for three more education assistants in Regular Instruction for Title I.
He also cited $50,326 for instructional supplies and materials and $46,846 for equipment.
“At this point, since we haven’t even started working with these students, it’s hard to know what specific equipment needs we’re going to have,” he acknowledged. “We’re going to have all these estimated amounts for what we believe are going to be the needs in those particular areas.”
Roper said $108,607 is the estimated expenditure in the Regular Instructional Program for Title II, along with $2,171 in indirect costs. In Title III, $1,889 is for the instruction itself and then $1,000 for staff development.
Turning to the General Fund budget, Roper addressed questions that were submitted in advance  by the board members.
The first one was how the anticipated number of employees in the municipal school district will compare to those now working in the four schools. Roper said there are currently 291 employees, and the new district expects to have 258.
Another question was about the need for 17 Special Education assistants – 11 in the General Fund budget and six in the Federal Projects budget. Roper said that will be a decrease of 14 positions from the 31 assistants currently in the four schools.
“We believe that the total of 17 is sufficient to meet our needs,” he noted. “But we can’t see cutting it any more than that and still meet the goals of these students’ Individual Education Plans.”
Roper said there was a question about the $75,935.41 for “Other Contracted Services” under the heading, Regular Instructional Support. He noted that $1,200 has been allocated for software for the library program, $5,840 for locating and arranging for substitute teachers, $50,000 for copier leases and $18,895.41 for Powerschool, which is student data management.
He said the $150,000 allocated for “Contract with Other Government” under the heading, Office of Principal, is for school resource officers.
Roper intends to have two full-time officers – one at Millington Central High School and the other at Millington Middle. He would also like to arrange a part-time “security presence” at E. A. Harrold and Millington Elementary schools.
But as a result of “recent conversations,” Roper said the school system probably needs to negotiate this with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office instead of the Millington Police Department.
“The way it was presented to me was that the city is not in a position to enter into an agreement with us to provide SROs,” he noted. “We’re hoping that we might have some further discussions on that.”
Board member Cody Childress said “the whole idea” about using the city’s police officers in the Millington schools is to “keep our money locally.” He and Roper both noted that some of the other suburban municipalities are providing SROs at no cost to their school systems.
“I’m not asking for this to be done at no cost,” Roper said, “because we’ve got money budgeted for it. All other things being equal, we’d certainly rather have an arrangement with the city for its police officers.”
The superintendent noted that there was also a question about the $1,432,000 allocated for “Contract Private Agencies” under the heading, Pupil Transportation. He said he would like to “piggyback” on a contract that the Shelby County School System will have with a private transportation company to provide buses to cover the routes that Millington needs.
“We’re trying to get final cost figures on this,” he acknowledged. “But this is the best estimate that we have, based on initial studies of the routes that are going to be required.”
Roper said some of the school districts that are in close proximity to each other might have routes that are shared by a single bus.
“In most cases,” he concluded, “that will not apply to Millington, because we are geographically more isolated. And so, it’s not feasible for us to be able to share routes with other municipalities.”

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