By Bill Short
The Millington School Board voted unanimously this week to terminate its Shared Services agreement and create five staff positions to perform 10 services in-house.
Board members took both actions Monday night during their regular monthly meeting.
A motion to terminate the agreement was offered by Chris Denson and seconded by Roger Christopher.
A motion to create the new positions by amending the current fiscal year’s General Fund Budget was offered by C. J. Haley and seconded by Mark Coulter.
Board Chairman Cody Childress noted that there will be “no increase” in the current budget for the positions.
Bruce Rasmussen, supervisor of Financial Services for the school system, said funds that were already in the budget will be reallocated. He noted that the school system received extra money from Shelby County and from the state through its Basic Education Program.
“That went into the budget under Capital Outlay,” he said. “We’re just moving it from the Capital Outlay into the various areas that we need to support those positions.”
The five new positions are:
(1) Data Management and District Planning coordinator
(2) Network and System specialist
(3) Operations and Transportation assistant
(4) Purchasing/Contracts/Inventory coordinator
(5) Financial Operations supervisor
During the spring of 2014, the superintendents of the six new municipal school districts in the county prepared a proposal to share services for the operations side of the districts. They submitted three-year Inter-Local Agreements that were approved by the school boards in all six districts.
The agreements began on July 1, 2014 and will officially expire on June 30 of this year.
They were to share services in 11 areas: business and finance software, payroll, planning, benefits, purchasing, information technology support, transportation, Power School, nutrition, energy management and Career Technical Education.
Dr. David Roper, superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools, has noted that the Shared Services programs were provided by employees of the Arlington, Bartlett and Collierville districts.
Under the agreements, each district’s share of the cost for the services was based on its proportion of the total student enrollment in all six districts. Millington’s annual enrollment was approximately 8 percent of the total.
“That was a good thing for us,” Roper has said, “because we got valuable services that helped us accomplish a lot of things that otherwise would have been very difficult for us in a small school district.”
But the three “provider” districts decided that, beginning on July 1, the cost would be based on how many districts participated in a particular service. For example, if four participated, each would pay 25 percent of the total.
Roper has noted that, if Millington stayed with all 11 shared services after July 1, it would cost the district approximately $714,000 each year. But by “pulling out” of all but one, the annual cost will be only about $366,790.
He believes it is not in Millington’s “best interest” to continue in the Shared Services programs, except for Career Technical Education.
During an interview after Monday night’s meeting, Roper said he believes most of the six districts will continue participating in the CTE service, which is provided by Clark Knight. But he noted that it will not be done under the same “scenario.”
Roper said several of the districts plan to enter into a “consulting contract” with Knight, but it will no longer be a Shared Services Inter-Local Agreement.
“Our contract would be whatever we would work out with him, as far as the number of our students who would need services,” he noted. “And Bartlett or Collierville would have a totally different contract arrangement, based on their needs.”
Roper has said that, in addition to saving the district approximately $348,000 a year, creating the new staff positions will make it “more efficient” by performing the services in-house. And it will allow the district to show the community it is a “mature” school system that can “stand on its own.”
The superintendent has examined which members of the school system’s existing administrative staff are currently responsible for which areas. And he believes that, by “redirecting” some duties, he can have the other 10 shared services “covered” with just five individuals.
“It’s going to be a dividing up of those responsibilities,” he noted. “That’s going to be reflected in the job description for these new positions that we post and try to hire the best individuals possible.”
Although Roper hopes to begin accepting applications and interviewing “within the coming days,” he said not all the positions will be filled at the same time. But he does expect the individuals to be hired before July 1.
“It’s going to be a big transition for us,” he acknowledged. “But we’re already working on getting the training arranged for our folks.”
By Bill Short