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Millington schools’ revenue exceeds $24 million with attendance at 2,744

By Bill Short

Don Holsinger

Don Holsinger

Millington School Board Chairman Don Holsinger said last week that the municipal school system’s revenue this year is in excess of $24 million, with attendance at 2,744.
He noted that a feasibility study conducted by the Southern Educational Strategies consulting firm estimated that attendance in the new municipal school district would be 2,329. And he recalled that, last year, attendance at Millington’s four schools was 2,672.
Holsinger said the current total is an increase of 415 above the SES estimate and 72 more students than attended last year, when the Millington schools were part of the Shelby County School System.
He also said the actual revenue generated by the municipal school system is almost $5 million more than the $19,000,644 that the SES study estimated.
Holsinger made the comments when he presented an “update” on the school system during the Dec. 8 regular monthly meeting of the Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
While noting that the system is “halfway through” the first school year, he said it has been “successful beyond expectations.”
“But we’re not content,” he acknowledged. “We’re going to do it much better.”
Holsinger recalled that, before the school board members were sworn in last December, they had a consultant help them find applicants for the school superintendent.
Dr. David Roper, one of three finalists for the position invited to return for second interviews, was hired by the board on Dec. 20, 2013.
He had served a total of eight years as the superintendent in the Roanoke, Ala., and Elizabethton, Tenn., school systems and was in his fourth year as a “master clinician” at Middle Tennessee State University, where he trained teacher candidates. Holsinger recalled that the school system initially rented 1,200 square feet of office space in the Millington Industrial Development Board building on Veterans Parkway.
“We had three used desks, four used chairs, a couple of used file cabinets, no telephones, no computers and no Internet,” he noted. “Dr. Roper was thrilled when he arrived.”
Holsinger said that, at a cost of $1 a year for 40 years, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen gave the school system a building at the Harvell Civic Center for use as its Central Office. He also noted that the school board signed an agreement, “negotiated in part” by City Attorney Charles Perkins, to receive Millington’s four school buildings at a cost of slightly more than $230,000 a year for 12 years.
“We heard the voice of the students, parents and school staff about the food at the schools,” he said. “And this year, we’re cooking food in the schools when it’s ready to be eaten, and not frozen TV dinners that we bring in to have thawed out.”
Holsinger noted that the school system qualified for the federal school lunch service, which provides breakfast and lunch at no cost for all students, not just those who are below the poverty line.
“We now have less waste, because the food is better,” he said. “And we have better food service, due to the hard-working cafeteria staff.”
Holsinger said Roper employed three new principals to replace the ones who were “hired and transferred away” by the county school system. Then, they began the task of completing their staffs and filling future positions.
In conjunction with the other municipalities, Holsinger said, an insurance network was established that allows the school systems to “self-insure” all their employees at a “considerable savings.”
“Also working with the other municipalities,” he added, “we were able to establish several areas of Shared Services. When we do shared services, we only pay one-tenth of the cost of those positions to get the usage of them.”
With funds negotiated from the Shelby County Commission, he said the school system is in the process of re-roofing the Millington Central High School Gymnasium and the Freshmen Academy, which had maintenance “deferred” for several years.
“To put it bluntly, they leaked like a sieve,” he noted. “We were ready to do swimming meets instead of basketball games sometimes.”
Next summer, he said, the school system expects to do renovation on the Freshmen Academy to accommodate “expanded needs” for E. A. Harrold Elementary and Millington Middle School, which are getting “close to capacity” now.
He also said that, last week, the Millington Education Foundation provided more than $11,600 in grants to teachers to fund Special Education projects that they wanted to do but lacked the money.
Holsinger said he is personally acquainted with most of the members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, and most signed his qualifying petition to run for his position on the school board.
He noted that they are two separate boards that have responsibilities to two different constituencies.
“They interrelate to a certain extent, but not completely,” he acknowledged. “As such, we have not initially agreed on things, and we probably won’t in the future.”
But he noted that both boards are “passionate” about what they do and take their responsibilities seriously.
“Even though we don’t always agree, we will work together,” he said. “And we both understand that, if Millington schools are successful, Millington is successful.”
In contrast to last year, Holsinger said the teachers’ morale is high. They enjoy working in Millington’s schools.
“Students are enjoying being in our schools,” he added. “Parents appear to be approving what is happening. I know, if they didn’t, they’d be calling me.”
He said much of the credit for that must be given to the Central Office staff, which does not know what a 40-hour workweek is. The staff members’ week starts at about 70 hours, he said, and increases from there, because they work “tirelessly” to make things “go right.”
While acknowledging that the school system has a “few issues with the buses,” Holsinger said they are “improving each day,” and the administration is “working hard” to get them resolved.
“Will problems come up?” He asked rhetorically. “Yeah. But when they do, we’re going to address them, and we’re going to overcome them.”
Holsinger said some “great opportunities” are currently being investigated that have the potential to make Millington the “premiere” school system in the area.
“So, to all the naysayers, doubters and critics,” he concluded, “get on the Millington school bandwagon, because we’re moving with or without you.”

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