By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
School board approves budget, technology purchase
The Edgecombe County Board of Education approved a and a technology purchase as well as a final budget for 2013-14 at its Monday evening meeting.
The board approved a $65,197,802 budget, a decrease of $1,733,455 from 2012-13. The budget includes a decline in state funding because of a decrease in Average Daily Membership (ADM) in students, as well as a $318,00 decrease in county funding.
One of the major reasons for the decline in ADM is the growth in the number of students residing in ECPS’ boundaries attending charter schools this year – 933, an increase of 396 from a year ago.
In December, the district will begin planning the budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
“We’ll have some moving targets,” said Superintendent John Farrelly.
One of those targets is determining the number of students who will return to ECPS next year. Goals for next year include strengthening instructional programs and working toward the launch of a “global school,” Farrelly said.
The 2013-14 budget also includes a continued reduction of state allotments for instructional supplies and textbooks, Finance Director Laurie Leary told the board, The allocation for instructional supplies this year is $184,208, and the textbook allotment is $437,162.
Board member Faye Taylor asked if textbook funds could be used for technology with Leary saying that is an option.
Farrelly said the district does plan to convert some of the textbook funds to technology to support the county’s 1:1 initiative of placing a digital device in the hands of every student.
Technology was the focus of another agenda item with the purchase of 1,100 Samsung Chromebooks, which the board approved unanimously.
A Chromebook is a lightweight, portable laptop with built-in applications and a long battery life. An initial group of 56 teachers will lead students in the use of the Chromebooks, as part of the district’s digital learning initiative.
“What a huge advantage for our students. It’s very exciting,” said Board Chair Ann Kent.
The total cost of the Chromebooks is $348,621.90, and the funding source is the state technology allotment. Farrelly said his goal is to place Chromebooks in every third through 12th grade classroom in the district.
In other business, the board unanimously approved a consent item to eliminate fees for microwaves and refrigerators. Teachers previously had to pay $25 to have a refrigerator and $10 to have a microwave in their classroom. Farrelly recommended the board’s approval of the item.
“We have been below the budgeted amount for utilities,” he said.
He also noted that teachers did not receive pay raises this year and that teaching positions have been cut because of budget shortfalls.
“A lot of teacher morale has been low across the state for various reasons,” he said.
In other business, the board approved:
An $83,736.21 Title III language acquisition grant to pay for substitutes, professional development expenses, computer software, and grades K-12 supplemental and remedial services/ supplies.
A $53,674 Title V abstinence education grant to hire a social worker based at W.A. Pattillo School.
The district’s AIG (Academically and Intellectually Gifted) plan. Currently, 496 students in the district are identified as AIG.
An agreement with Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness, Inc. to provide occupational therapy for 2013-2014.
Two fundraisers at West Edgecombe Middle School.