With a quorum of three members Monday night, the Lakeland School System’s board approved next year’s budget, heard about successful school roof repairs, and passed a quick succession of resolutions.
Some of the votes passed without discussion, as the board had already held more in-depth discussions at their April 6 work session.
Board chair Kevin Floyd and school board member Matt Wright were absent from the meeting. Vice chair Laura Harrison presided.
2015-2016 general fund budget
The board approved a 2015-16 general fund school district budget of $7,281,938, an increase of $279,725 (or just under 4 percent) over the 2014-15 budget of $7,002,213. Next, it goes to the city board for approval.
Editor’s note: See our separate budget story in this issue for details.
Before/after school care
The board approved superintendent Ted Horrell’s recommendation to move an outsourced before/after school child care program in house. Currently, the district is contracted with YMCA of Millington to provide up to two hours before-school and/or two hours after-school care, light programming and snacks for children. Parents pay the YMCA directly for this service.
Horrell said moving this program in house with LSS staff could enhance the program, improve interactions and at least remain budget neutral for the district. It could potentially generate funds that would go back into the program for the benefit of students.
For details on the research that went into the decision, see the resolution online at the school district’s website.
The board approved Horrell’s recommendation that Lakeland Elementary not make up the classroom time missed during its seven closures because of inclement weather. At the earlierApril 6 work session, he explained that the district operates with a school day that is a half-hour longer than required, and the state allows districts to stockpile some of those hours to credit against missed days of school.
After consulting with the LES principal, he advised the board that the longer instructional day had allowed the children to get in adequate instructional time and that they do not need to make up those hours.
Horrell also received board approval to notify its accreditation agency that the district will pursue single-school accreditation for Lakeland Elementary School instead of system accreditation for the district at this time. Because the district plans expansion, it did not make financial sense to seek district-wide accreditation for just one school, particularly when it would approximately double the cost and would have to be redone once Lakeland Prep is built anyway, he said.
Lakeland Elementary currently holds accreditation based on when it was part of the Shelby County Schools district.
Horrell will be working with AdvancED, a group that specialized in accreditation.
Horrell said Lakeland Elementary School’s roof has received “fairly substantial” roof repairs at a cost of $4,800 and has remained leak-free through two recent rainstorms. The work included 102 repairs and the resealing of 44 scuffers (holes in the building to drain the water).
Lakeland Elementary student Luke Story, the son of Jessica and Grant Story, read the school board his winning “Take a Bite Out of Crime” essay recently honored by the Exchange Clubs of Memphis.
After earning a spot as one of the 16 finalists in the essay competition, he passed an interview with Shelby County Sheriff’s Department representatives and emerged as one of the six winners chosen.
He was awarded a certificate, a cap with a sheriff’s badge pin, a Shelby County badge with ID, a plaque and a $50 cash award from the Exchange Clubs of Memphis.
His teacher, Joanne Switzer, also received a $50 cash prize.
They both attended the March 12 awards luncheon attended by the Exchange Club’s board of directors and representatives of the Tennessee Board of Investigation, Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
The school board:
- Learned that 647 students have registered to date for the new school year. Horrell was positive about the numbers, which are slightly higher than last year’s spring registration. That does not include about 15 “shared residency” students yet. (“Shared residency” refers to scenarios in which parents and children live with another family and thus cannot provide the usual proof of residency requirements for acceptance into public schools).
- Learned that the school system is currently significantly under budget and revenues have exceeded expectations, so the district as a whole is in good financial shape. Horrell noted, however, that one part of the budget will need adjustments. The cafeteria budget is expected to be about $25,000 over budget, approximately the amount that Shelby County Schools had traditionally subsidized annually. He believes that a recent staff reduction of one position will help with the costs for this year and next. The budget includes Lakeland’s portion of the shared services contract for the nutrition supervisor and her staff, as well as routine costs like cleaning, preventive pest control and cafeteria maintenance. Software expenses were a higher-than-anticipated part of the cafeteria budget, and he is still sorting out how much of that cost is recurring vs. one-time. School lunch and breakfast purchases have remained fairly stable for the past four months.
- Approved an arrangement between the city and the school district for the lease-purchase of 65 Apple computers over four years for LES teachers and staff. Their existing computers that are still serviceable will be put into classroom use. The city is the agency allowed to enter into such a lease, and the LSS board approved a memorandum of understanding that the school district will repay the city.
- Heard the superintendent’s update on the district’s health trust. There will be a 5 percent increase in the top tier health insurance plan, a 3 percent increase in the basic plan and no increase in the HRA plan. He said the health trust is in good financial shape and a raise is not unusual, particularly after the first year of operations. Horrell also noted that the costs still remain below the state insurance plan’s cost.
- Adopted the math textbook selection recommended by the textbook committee after an extensive examination of alternatives and gathering of public input. The provider is Curriculum Associates. Horrell explained at the April 6 work session that the state requires districts to adopt but not necessarily purchase these textbooks. The district will continue using the ones currently on hand because of uncertainty over standards and possible shifts with assessments.
- Heard a presentation from the new LES school nurse and district health coordinator, Susan Rice. She has been on the job about seven weeks and has met with all except one class of first graders. She is working to have an EpiPen (an easy-to-use injector for people with life-threatening allergic reactions) on hand, establish a program to have nursing students participating in the health program, develop programs to encourage healthy levels of activity and set up a “traverse wall” for the gym so children will have another indoors activity for days with inclement weather.
- Approved a revised policy on personnel health examinations/communicable diseases.
- Approved a revised policy on student surveys, analyses, and evaluations.
- Approved offering full-time LSS and city employees the benefit of enrolling their children in the LSS district.
- Was advised that the school’s part-time psychologist, Marilyn Pickering, will be retiring at the end of this school year, and the position will be advertised.
Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to email@example.com.