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.


Despite loss of major revenue source,Greene County School System still maintaining balanced budget

School Board Chair Leo Branch presents board member Lester Brown with a plaque indicating that Brown had completed the Alabama Association of School Boards Academy’s requirements.
At the regular meeting of the Greene County Board of Education, CFO Ms. Evelyn James told board members that the system now had a cash and cash equivalency of $2.9 million.
The revenue for the month of November was $1.16 million; expenditures equalled $1.225 million. However, she said, there was $400,000 in federal funding for October and November which would not be received until December, which would help balance revenue and expenses.
Board member Lester Brown asked, as he does at every meeting, if the board had received any funding from bingo at Greenetrack or from simulcasting. As usual, he was told no funding had come in from either source. He asked that the attorney contact them.
In action items, the board unanimously approved travel for the Greene County High School Girls Basketball team to Dekalb, Mississippi on December 28 and travel for the Greene County High School Boys Basketball Team to Kemper, Mississippi to participate in the Kemper County Tournament on December 29-30. They also approved payment of bills, claims and payroll and approved the financial statement submitted by CFO Evelyn James.
Following a lengthy executive session, the board approved the retirement of Mrs. Bobby Carpenter, secretary at the Greene County Board of Education, effective January 1, 2011.
They also approved the resignation of Mr. Cleveland Austin as health instructor at Greene County High School, effective November 30, 2010.
In her report. Superintendent Isaac Atkins explained to Board members that the State School Board had adopted a common core curricular in English and Math. They become the 42nd state in the U. S. to adopt these standards and the final state in the southern states to do so.
She also reported that the system had received an Arts in the Schools grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. The funds will be used purchase art supplies for Eutaw Primary and Greene County High School and to take students to various arts-related events.
She also reported that all schools are required by the state to maintain at least one month’s operating funds. At present, the Greene County System is maintaining 4.6 months operating funds in the schools. “There are quite a few schools in the negative,” she said. “Greene County Schools are not in the negative.”
She also explained that the schools cannot use public funds for a number of things. Monies for activities that cannot use public funds can often be raised by PTAs and other school-related organizations. She ended her report by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.
Board Chair Leo Branch announced that board member Lester Brown had completed all the courses of the Alabama Association of School Board’s Academy. He presented Brown with a plaque from the Academy for his achievements.
Board members presented Superintendent Atkins with a lovely poinsettia as a Christmas present.
The board recessed until January 6, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.

Leo Branch is new chair of Board of Education

Pictured L-R are Board members Lester Brown and Morris Hardy being sworn in by District Judge Lillie Jones-Osborne.

At their regular meeting on November 15, the Greene County Board of Education unanimously elected Board Member Leo Branch as their chairman. Board Member Bobbie Morgan was elected Vice Chair.
Before the beginning of the meeting, District Judge Lillie Jones-Osborne swore in Lester Brown and Morris Hardy, the two members who were re-elected in November.
Coach Bruce Jackson presented the senior members of the Greene County High School football team and told board members how well the team had performed during the last season and how much he expected of the team in the 2011 season.
In her financial statement, CFO Evelyn James told the board that for the month of September the board had cash and cash equivalency of $3.1 million. This includes money for capital improvements. They had revenue of $1.6 million and expenses of $1.4 million. The last income from bingo at Greenetrack was in July for the month of June. Lester Brown told the board that already the school system had not received at least $225,000 from bingo. This was an estimate of what they would have received had Governor Bob Riley left the bingo machines in place and operating.
James said the revenue for October was $1.2 million and the expenses were $1.5 million.
In action items, the Board approved:
*At Risk Funds for Greene County Children’s Policy Council, New Generation After-School Tutorial  Program, SCORE, and the Center for Rural Development;
*An Anti-Harassment Policy;
*Payment of all bills and claims;
*The financial statement submitted by Evelyn James;
*Resolution authorizing the issuing of the Capital Outlay Pool Warrant.
Following an executive session, the Board approved catastrophic sick leave for Ms. Sandra Harris, Transportation/CNP Secretary for the system.During her report, Superintendent Isaac Atkins said that the students at Eutaw Primary all had computers now and by going on Skype were able to visit one of their teachers online who was serving in Iraq. She said that soon they would be able to communicate with other students in other schools.
She announced that November 14-20 was American Education Week. This year’s theme is Great Public Schools – A Basic Right and Our Responsibility. Each school is having programs each day during this week.
During public comments two people from District 3 said they were interested in filling the vacancy left by Elzora Fluker. They were told by Attorney Sanders that the qualifications were to be a registered voter, live in the district and be an adult.
The board recessed the current meeting and announced the meeting would continue on November 29.Attorney Senator Hank Sanders advised the board that he had done some research on how to legally fill the vacancy created when Board Member Elzora Fluker was sworn in as a Greene County Commissioner.
According to Sanders, the position must be filled within 30 days following Fluker being sworn in as a commissioner. This leaves them 23 days from the date of the November 15 meeting to fill the vacancy. If they do not, the State Superintendent gets to fill the vacancy.
It was decided that, to make things fair, the board would accept applications from each person who wants the position. They will accept applications until November 23 and then make a decision.
Branch said that all applicants are to address their resumes to the Greene County Board of Education, c/o President Leo Branch.