2012 could be the worst year yet for schools, says Superintendent


Board member Leo Branch is presenting an award to teacher Regina Harmon. Awards will be presented on a monthly basis to teachers in every school in the system. The awardees will be selected by their peers as the teacher who made the biggest difference in their particular school during the preceeding month. Harmon was the only teacher selected who was present at Monday night’s meeting.

At the regular meeting of the Greene County School Board, Superintendent Isaac Atkins painted a grim picture of school finances statewide.
State funding has dropped by 20% in the past two years. In 2008, the state used all of its proration savings account; $1.8 billion in one-time emergency funding has been spent; many systems are having to borrow money just to meet payroll.
According to Atkins, Federal Stimulus money will be depleted by the end of this year; the Transportation budget has been at only 75% of need. There was $32 million in fleet renewal money, but that will no happen in 2012.
Greene faces an additional problem in that the population is shrinking. This is not due to people sending their children out of county for educational needs – it is due to the fact that the population of the entire county is shrinking as the job market weakens. There is a loss of 62 students predicted by 2012.
“We aren’t even retaining all of our live briths. This is one of the things we can’t solve. By 2012 we may have only 200 students in Greene County High School. When you lose children you lose teachers,” said Isaac.
She advised the board that some steps can be taken, including:
*Reducing staffing
*Seeking additional revenue wherever possible including applying for $11,782 from the Hurricane Recovery Act which was created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina;
*Refining the system’s RIF policy.
Board member Lester Brown asked that the board be made a part of helping keep the system “afloat.”
Another report by Isaac concerned Differentiated Instruction training had been provided for the teachers at Greene County High School. This will be done for teachers in all of the schools. Basically, this instruction trains teachers on how best to teach children on different learning levels to better serve several levels of skill in the same classroom.
She presented each board member an African American calender that features a different successful African American each month, naming Oscar Adams, Fred Shuttlesworth and Ethel Hall as some featured in the calendar.
She told them that every student and every teacher in the system had received a copy of the Black History special edition published by the Greene County Democrat and that Ethnic Studies is now an elective at Greene County High School.
In her financial statement, CFO Evelyn James told the board that there was a slight increase in January’s revenue, but that was due to tax payments during the month.
She said that Greenetrack had contributed in the form of grants from the Racing Commission. Brown emphasized that all of the schools should apply for this money on a regular basis.
Other items reported by Atkins included
*A contract with Teach for America which would provide a Spanish teacher, two math teachers, a reading teacher and a science teacher for next year.
*A program which would enable the system to offer seniors at Greene County High School a financial literacy class.
*A program provided by the Greene/Sumter EC entitled “Money Smart,” which will be given to 11th graders to improve their financial literacy.
Board Attorney Hank Sanders made the following recommendations and the following actions were taken:
Attorney Sanders proposed that Superintendent Atkins recommend to the board that the contract agreement with William & Associates (architects) be approved. The superintendent offered the recommendation. The board voted to approved the superintendent’s recommendation.
Attorney Sanders proposed that Superintendent Atkins recommend that the board rescind the contract with TCU & Associates. The superintendent offered the recommendation. The board approved the superintendent’s recommendation.
Attorney Sanders proposed that Superintendent Atkins recommend that the board approve a contract with TCU & Associates subject to the details being worked out with TCU, the superintendent, the board chairperson and the board’s attorney. The superintendent offered the recommendation. The board approved the recommendation.

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