By ASHLEY AMASON
Debate circled around the recommendation of an earlier start date for the 2009-10 school year at the April 7 Walton County School Board meeting. Superintendent Anderson suggested students return to school on Aug. 10 in the interest of finishing end-of-semester exams before Christmas holidays. Anderson noted the benefits of an early start date for dual enrollment students and guidance counselors, since college courses end before Christmas holidays. “Academically, it’s a sound thing to do to end the semester before Christmas,” she declared.
The recommendation was met with opposition to a shorter summer break, possible lack of planning time for teachers, and interruption to parents’ summer visitation or vacation plans. The motion for professional day Aug. 17 and class-start date on Aug. 24 was passed three to two, with Vice-Chairperson Sharon Roberts and member Mildred Wilkerson opposing.
Returning to the budget issue, Chief Financial Officer Jim McCall said the state’s increased fund projection “may be too rosy.”
As of March 31, the House’s proposal for current projected revenues was just over $61 million, an increase of $2.4 million over last year. However, McCall claimed this projection gives a false impression because the majority of the funds are mandated for certain uses, and cannot be used for the general operating budget.
Additionally, the funds are part of the (assumed) $866 million in stimulus funds for 2010-11, and are therefore non-recurring. “The board should consider as many budget-cutting measures as possible to increase the fund balance,” McCall warned. Although, approval of budget reductions for fiscal year 2009-10 was placed on the agenda, the board postponed approval in light of the information McCall presented.
The board approved the mid-year progress reports for individual 2008-2009 school improvement plans. The district is required to submit school improvement plans to the Department of Education to receive school accreditation. Responding to the question of necessity of the plans posed by board member Darrell Barnhill, Coordinator of School Improvement and Accountability Dr. David Jeselnik said, “The school improvement plan is the central organizational document for schools.”