GISD Business Mgr. Beverly Grimes told trustees the district will decrease its bond payments about $70,000 by refunding bonds, and can thus save a cent on the interest/sinking part of the tax rate. (The other part of the tax rate is for maintenance/operations.) The drop would lower the current overall tax rate from $1.19 per $100 valuation to $1.18.
But, Mrs. Grimes said, “the rest of it’s (the revenue picture) bad news.”
Albritton said the district has sustained a $2.5 million loss in state aid over a 2-year period, and that GISD had cut the budget by $1.3 million last year, reducing staff by about 28 employees (through attrition and non-renewal of probationary contracts).
In addition, Mrs. Grimes said the district does not have $421,000 for the coming fiscal year that it received last year under the federal “education jobs fund.”
But while the district is losing another $500,000 in state aid this year than last year, Albritton said, “We knew it was coming. We put the money back,” so “we’ve got the money to fund that for (only) one more year.”
Mrs. Grimes noted that preliminary valuations show the district will also lose $30,000 in local tax revenue, mostly from mineral value decreases.
However, Albritton said local revenue is “pretty much stable.”
He also said that if the board wants to give pay raises, it must cut the budget somewhere else.
Citing the impact of losing aid, board member Todd Tefteller told Albritton, “You’ve done a good job of preparing us for this.” Board member Diedra Camp agreed.
In other business, the board approved grading guidelines for 2012-2013 with Albritton saying the school is “trying to separate academic performance from behavioral performance.”
He said some students might make 100 on a test, but “be a pain” the whole time they are present.
He also said about 300 parents had signed up to receive periodic text messages or email concerning their children’s grades.
After considerable discussion, the board also approved the Student Code of Conduct for 2012-13 with the provision that the administration would rewrite the section involving regulation of students using cell phones.
During the discussion on the code, Board President Jeff Rash asked “how frequently are we paddling?” students.
Intermediate School Principal Dr. Bobby Rice said he probably did so 20 times last school year, and “we always contact the parents first.” But Bruce Junior High Principal Dawn Harris said she doesn’t spank students as some are “bigger than me” and “I just don’t believe in it.”
Said Albritton, “Paddling is not the first choice (for discipline). . .but it is still something we do.” By law, he said, parents can forbid spanking their child, but cannot set the alternative punishment.
The board also voted 6-1 with Mrs. Camp opposing to allow the Gilmer High School Buckeye Stars drill team to make an out-of-state trip—possibly a cruise. No school funds would be used for the trip as the team would raise the money.
Mrs. Camp declined to comment for publication on why she opposed the trip.
Trustees also approved continuing use of the school’s internet content filter, which Albritton said would track attempts to go to “questionable” internet sites like “Playboy.”
Albritton and the board also discussed at length possible changes in the state’s accountability system, under which the state analyzes student progress in school districts.
Albritton complained that some races initially performed better on standardized state testing because the tests were written by well-educated, middle-class Midwesterners and “there’s bias in the test writing.”
He said it was not “strictly a racial bias. . .It’s a cultural bias as much as anything else.
“We’re using the test for the wrong reason. . .to see if a school is good,” when it should be used to see if students are learning, said Albritton.