By Amanda McBride The Choctaw Plaindealer
The Choctaw County School District will soon be restructured to save money and create a better educational environment for students in the county.
The School Board approved Proposal 1 as the restructuring plan in their June 4 board meeting at the Ty Cobb Complex.
Proposal 1 includes: two elementary schools Prek-5 grades one each at Ackerman Elementary School and Weir Attendance Center, one junior high 6-8 grades at Weir Attendance Center and one high school 9-12 grades at Ackerman High School.
At this time, the School Board does not know whether the restructuring will be in place from the 2012-2013 school year or not. They are awaiting approval from the Department of Justice, since the district is under a Desegregation Order. The board has set June 22 as the deadline to hear from the DOJ to implement it for the upcoming school year.
The Choctaw Plaindealer emailed Superintendent Glen Beard, Jr., questions about how the restructuring plan would benefit the students and how the plan will save money for the district. Below are the questions and answers from Bear.
•How will the school district save money/funds by restructuring the school district under Proposal 1?
“Money will be saved in salaries and benefits. Estimated savings total over $553,000 and could be higher as we get a feel for what our student/teacher needs will be. Savings will also occur in utilities as we will no longer be operating two independent high school extracurricular programs or three independent junior high extracurricular programs. Combining together should result in utilities savings of over $16,000 per year,” said Beard.
• In the June 4 School board meeting, you mentioned absorbing staff vacancies. You said currently there are 19 vacancies and with Proposal 1 there would only be 12 vacancies that the district would absorb. How will the district absorb these vacancies? How much savings in funds would these create?
“Correction to your question. If we move forward in our current structure, we will need to fill 19 vacancies. If we move forward with proposal 1, we will need to fill 12 vacancies. These vacancies are absorbed through attrition. As we have had retirements and resignations, we have found that we have staff able to handle many areas and have no need for new hires. As stated in #1 above savings total over $553,000 annually under proposal,” stated Beard.
• You also mentioned transportation costs under the current situation and Proposal 1. What are the transportation savings, if any, would there be under Proposal 1? How much money would that save, if any?
“There are no projected transportation savings in total. There are some eliminated routes but we will have to increase some as well. Overall transportation costs should be around an additional $10,000 and should be an acceptable amount in view of the overall savings,” said Beard.
• What are other areas and amounts that will create savings under the restructuring plan?
“As stated above extracurricular savings should be increased. Going to one high school extracurricular program and one junior high extracurricular program will save on utilities, equipment, staff and transportation,” stated Beard.
• Enrollment was cited as a factor in the restructuring plan in the June 4 board meeting. What are the current estimated totals for each school/grade for the 2012-2013 school year? What are the estimated totals for each school/grade under Proposal 1? How will the differences benefit the district?
Beard provided charts for each school with the breakdown of numbers for each race with a grand total for each grade with restructuring and the current plan (without restructuring).
• What are any other areas that will benefit from the restructuring of the school district? How will they benefit the district and/or students?
“Presently we are serving 2 high schools, 3 Jr. High schools and 3 elementary schools. With the lowered funding at State and Federal level and the flat funding at the local level, we are not able to provide identical programs to every child at every school on an ongoing basis. Take for example a High School and Junior High Band program which is snow offered at only one location. Under the restructuring, every high or junior high student will have the opportunity to participate in band. However, under the present structure, we would have to offer two programs and that is not sustainable. There are many situations like that across the district,” said Beard.
How do you and/or the school board believe that the restructuring plan will improve education for the children?
“Children will have more educational opportunities in that Junior High and High School students will be offered more elective and advanced course opportunities. Children across the district will have consistent class sizes and course offerings,” stated Beard.
• Will the restructuring plan begin with the 2012-2013 school year? Is there a specific date that has been set to know an answer from the Department of Justice so that the plan will take place for the 2013-2013 school year? If so, what is that date?
“The board set June 22 as a cut-off date. That is, if we do not hear from the DOJ by then, we will revert to the current structure for the 2012-2013 school year,” said Beard.