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‘Gun to our heads on the budget’

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School board denies funds for security cameras, athletics

By Meaghan Downs

The school board denied two department budget increases for high school and middle school athletics and fewer security cameras for Anderson County buses, citing its tight budget for the upcoming school year.
The board unanimously voted to disperse the same amount of athletic budget funding as last year: $49,550 for the high school and $24,400 for the middle school.
Athletic director Rick Sallee had requested a $3,500 increase for the upcoming school year for two items:
• A additional $2,500 from the school board to complete a football field drainage project. Another $2,500 had already been promised by donation for the field.
• $1,000 for the purchase of a new volleyball net, with the other $1,000 already committed and provided for, Sallee said.
Sallee said one of the setbacks they had last year regarding the athletic budget was the delay of the baseball field, which resulted in fewer dollars in gate admission revenue.
“That ate up some of last year’s budget even deeper,” Sallee said.
School board member Lee Hahn asked finance officer Nick Clark if the athletic increases were in the budget, adding that when Hahn asks Clark if something in the budget, Hahn’s not assuming a 4 percent revenue increase.
“It’s still a tentative budget,” Hahn said, referring to the board’s final vote on the budget in September after the board receives approval from the state.
If the board votes on a 4 percent revenue increase or not, McDowell said, it’s going to be a tough year all around for the district.  
“Funding from the state and federal resources are declining. Costs continue to go up,” he said. “I don’t think now is a good time to be increasing department budgets.”
School board president James Sargent said the board was trying to save all they can.
“There are certain things we have to increase because of safety and health,” Sargent said. “Because of our lack of money, we’re going to have to start decreasing.”
Sargent made the first motion to approve what the board gave last year. McDowell seconded the motion.
The board also denied a $705 increase for the middle school athletic budget, choosing to approve the $24,400 given last year. The main increase was to put funding toward wrestling mats, Clark said. The wrestling mats had become a cause for concern due to their age and general wear and tear.
 “I can’t ask the board to give you all an increase in money when we just turned down the high school,” Sargent said.
The board later denied a separate purchase request for wrestling mats for the middle school. Submitted quotes for the purchase of wrestling mats ranged from $7,470 to $9,150.
Amending an original $13,440 request for seven new security cameras for school buses, the board unanimously approved a purchase of five security cameras.
According to transportation director Jeff Young, the seven DVR systems for buses are part of a three-year replacement plan that began last year.
Anderson County is required to have bus monitors on buses with preschool age children, children with special needs and children being picked up on streets or roads that have dangerous crossings, Young said.
But school bus monitors can’t see everything, Young said; and the DVR systems are probably the best tool bus drivers have.
McDowell asked Young what would happen if the board approved five DVR cameras instead of the requested seven.
Young said the transportation department needs more than seven cameras to begin with; seven cameras puts the department at about 60 percent of buses that have good cameras.
Board member Donna Drury asked Young how often security cameras are viewed. Several administrators attending the board meeting said tapes are reviewed weekly, if not more.
“This is that evidence to go by too, rather than hearsay or nothing,” Director of Student Services Derek Shouse said during the meeting, adding that the cameras address allegations regarding bullying and bus driver behavior. “We want to keep all our kids safe.”
McDowell made the first motion to approve the purchase of five DVR systems instead of seven. Drury seconded the motion.
The board needs to trim where it can in its budget, McDowell said.  
“I understand your situation, Jeff,” he said, “but I think this is a year we’re going to have a gun to our heads on the budget.”

School resource officer salary reimbursement increase for city of Lawrenceburg approved
The school board unanimously voted to increase the city of Lawrenceburg’s school resource officer salary reimbursement from 20 percent to 40 percent for the upcoming school year.
According to Clark, the finance officer, the salary reimbursement increase would amount to about $8,000 more in salary for a total district reimbursement of about $21,000.
City police officer Joe Saunier currently serves as the Anderson County middle’s school resource officer, a position he’s held since 2010.  
Saunier was honored in June 2012 as the state’s School Resource Officer of the Year.
McDowell made the first motion to approve the salary increase for Saunier, and to allow the city and county to work with Superintendent Sheila Mitchell to come to a “mutual agreement” for next year.
“Come to something that’s more equivalent to both,” McDowell said.
City police chief Chris Atkins was not present during the school board meeting.
In June the school board narrowly approved a salary reimbursement increase for school resource officer and sheriff’s office Deputy Paul Blackhurst.
Blackhurst’s salary reimbursement increased from 50 to 75 percent for a total of $35,936.24, about $11,000 more than last year.
The district-approved increases are not overall salary raises for officers, but an increase in the percentage of salary and benefits the district provides for the time SROs spend among Anderson County students.

Emergency siren to be located at Turner Elementary
The school board unanimously voted to allow Anderson County emergency management to place a 50-foot emergency siren about 24 inches onto Robert B. Turner Elementary’s property.
Public Safety Director Bart Powell informed the board that the emergency siren —purchased and installed at no cost to the district —would be used to warn residents in outdoor activities in the event of a tornado warning.
There are four other emergency sirens already installed throughout the county: one near Walmart, one near US 44/Versailles Road, one near the Eagle Lake Convention Center and one near Carlton Lane.
Turner was chosen as a location for the new emergency siren because of the lack of an effective outdoor warning system in the area, Powell said.
The only difference between those sirens and the one to be placed at Turner is that the newest emergency siren pole would be set in concrete, Powell said.
“I think early warning for all our schools is paramount,” Powell said to board members.
The emergency siren would likely be constructed between Turner’s marquee sign just off US 62 and the school’s traffic signals.  
The board allowed emergency management to place the emergency siren on Turner property using an existing easement. In the event the state transportation department decides to expand US 62, Powell said, the state would be responsible for the cost of relocating the siren to a new location.

Testing assessment
purchase approved
The board unanimously approved to renew its yearly contract for Northwest Evaluation Association’s MAP assessment tool for a total $36,712.50.
MAP, or Measures of Academic Progress, is a computer adaptive test that allows teachers and staff in the district to evaluate data on students’ academic progress throughout the school year.  
MAP tests are given to students at all levels about three times a year.  

ACE funding approved
Anderson Community Education (ACE) will receive $33,123 plus $5,000 in a local school board match (the local board match allows ACE to qualify for a $20,000 community education state grant) for the year.
The board unanimously approved the annual funding request from ACE.

Employed
Jared Cordray as a teacher at Anderson County High School.
Crystal Darnell as a teacher at Emma B. Ward Elementary.
Chris Glass as interim principal at Anderson County High School.
Courtney Holbert as a teacher at Anderson County High School.
Jason Howard as a teacher at Anderson County High School.
Gina Morgan as a teacher at Robert B. Turner Elementary.
Rebecca Potter as a teacher at Anderson County High School.
Sharon Sims as a bookkeeper at Emma B. Ward Elementary.
Mary Ann Warford as a teacher at Robert B. Turner Elementary.

Resignations
Kathy Campbell as a daycare worker at Anderson County High School.
Charlotte Carter as a teacher at Anderson County High School.
Carolyn Henderson as a substitute paraeducator.
Krystal Lewis as a guidance counselor at Anderson County High School.
Darrell Sea as a bus driver.

Retirement Resignations
Phyllis Hall as director of the Regional Training Center effective August 31, 2013.
Frank Moore as a teacher at Anderson County High School.

Leaves Granted
Amanda Cartinhour, a maternity leave beginning approximately Aug. 19 until Oct. 11.

Transfers
Paula Hayes from a receptionist position at central office to a receptionist position at Anderson County High School.