Carter schools director says he’s confident about balancing budget

John Thompson • Mar 22, 2013 at 9:23 AM

HAMPTON — Carter County Director of Schools Kevin Ward said during the Carter County School Board meeting Thursday evening that he was “very confident we will be able to get a balanced budget” for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The board meeting was held in the gymnasium of Hampton Elementary School.

That was a remarkable statement, because Ward had just told the audience the school system is facing $1.1 million in increases over the current fiscal year. He said the increases included $400,000 more in insurance costs and the making up of $600,000 in one-time cuts that had been made to the budget this year. Those cuts included not purchasing any textbooks or school buses this year. Those purchases would have to be made next year.

Ward said the insurance costs and the restoration of the normal cycle of buses and textbooks purchasing could be met without an increase in taxes.

Left unsaid in the meeting was that some of those increased costs will be made up by the recommendation to close Range Elementary School next year.

The proposed closure was not mentioned during the meeting and no one from the audience spoke on the plan. Those discussions have been reserved for a workshop session to be held Monday to discuss the proposed closure and to give supporters of keeping Range open a chance to speak. That session will be held in the board room of the administration building and will begin at 3 p.m.

Ward also talked to the board and the audience about school safety. He said the elementary schools in the system now are more secure because of access-control locks at the entrances. He said the high schools are less secure because there are so many entrances into the buildings.

Ward said that will be corrected with fencing around the high schools. The fencing will be configured to provide only one entrance into each campus. There will be a buzzer system monitored by security cameras to allow public access to the schools.

Federal Projects and Testing Coordinator Jerri Beth Nave said the schools will be undergoing several important tests in the next several weeks. She said the Stanford Achievement Tests will be given April 23-25; the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests will be given April 29-May 3 and the mathematics Constructive Response Assessment tests will be given May 8-9.

The board meeting was held in a spacious setting so that the high school basketball teams could be honored for their achievements during the year. The board also honored the system teachers of the year. They were: Bobbie Blevins of Unaka Elementary for grades K-5, Dawn Taylor of Central Elementary for grades 6-8 and Matt Estep of Happy Valley High School for grades 9-12.

The board also congratulated the staff of the Happy Valley Middle School cafeteria for achieving a perfect score on their last health department inspection. The staff includes Karen Blevins, Jacqueline Hill, Cindy Lunceford, Penny Rice and Crystal Roark.

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