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School Board passes budget

The Unicoi County Board of Education approved a $23.1 million budget for the 2015-2016 school year during a meeting on Thrusday, June 11.
All members – Chairwoman Cathy Thomas, Tyler Engle, Lisa White, Garland “Bubba” Evely, Steve Willis and Ruth Gaines – were in attendance at the meeting and voted in favor of the budget.
The board voted on the budget following a recommendation from Director of Schools John English who began his tenure as director earlier this month.
“I would like to say I appreciate all of the work done on this budget prior to me coming in on June 1 by this board,” English, presiding over his first meeting as director, said prior to the vote. “They spent a lot of months working hard to put this budget together. Mr. (Tommy) Clouse, during his time as interim director, Ms. (Diana) Cousins and the leadership team also put in a lot of work and I appreciate it.”
English said the budget is balanced and will be presented to the Unicoi County Commission in the coming weeks.
White made the motion to approve the budget. Her motion was seconded by Willis.
Included in the budget is a second curriculum supervisor position, which the board also approved on Thursday. English told The Erwin Record the creation of this new position did not require new funds. Instead, he and the board chose to stop funding two programs – School Net and Classworks – and use those funds to create the second curriculum supervisor position.
“Talking with administrators and teachers, we didn’t feel like School Net or Classworks were really meeting our needs in terms of the new assessments,” English told The Erwin Record on Monday, June 15.
Previously, the system had only one curriculum supervisor to serve grades Kindergarten through 12th. Now, English said, one supervisor, Jenifer Lingerfelt, will serve grades Kindergarten through fifth and the other, Sherry Ray, will serve grades sixth through 12th.
English said it is difficult for one employee to serve the system’s entire population for testing, evaluations, standards and curriculum.
“That’s a big job for one person,” he added. “Having someone to focus on K-5 and someone who can focus on secondary will offer our teachers more support than before.
“The testing for those two areas is different. The curriculum is different. Sherry and Jenifer can specialize and focus there attention on the needs in their areas. I’m really excited about the potential there.”
Ray previously served as principal at Unicoi County Middle School. English said former UCMS assistant principal Jordan Simmons has been named principal and that the system will hire a new assistant at that school in the near future.
Lingerfelt previously served as the system’s Pre-K director, English said. Sharon Slagle has been named the new Pre-K director.
Jan Sutphin, who previously served as curriculum supervisor, became the system’s federal programs director after English left that position to become director.
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Also on Monday, English said the total of the 2015-2016 budget is $23,118,692. Of this amount, $20,458,621 is the general purpose budget, $1,444,612 is federal and $1,215,459 is food service.
The 2014-2015 budget totaled $23,137,378, according to information from the school system.
Included in the 2015-2016 budget is a pay increase for the system’s professional and support staff. This totals a $330,257 increase. There are 207 certified staff and 155 support staff, also according to the information.
Personnel expenditures account for 77 percent of the system’s total budget, English said.
English also said that 68 percent of the system’s revenue for the coming year will come from the state of Tennessee Basic Education Program funds; 20 percent will come from local sales taxes; and 12 percent will come from Federal ESEA and IDEA funds.
Projected expenditures include $770,000 for utilities; $175,000 for textbooks; $178,575 lease for iPads; $65,000 for custodial supplies; $38,000 for disposal fees; $150,000 for diesel and gasoline; $178,000 for instructional supplies; $355,600 for property and liability insurance; and $180,000 for two new buses.
English said the system also has approximately $2.6 million in reserves, most of which – $1.8 million – are set aside for Love Chapel.
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The school board is scheduled to meet in a work session on July 6 at 5 p.m. and in a regularly scheduled meeting on July 9 at 6 p.m.