Watson Chapel School Board voices budget cut concerns


The Watson Chapel School District Board of Directors approved a resolution at its regular monthly meeting Monday night that calls on the U.S. Congress to amend the Budget Control Act of 2011 to mitigate the cuts to education that are included in the overall agreement reached in 2011 between Congress and the Obama administration.

“This is an initiative of the National School Board Association for school districts across the country to pass these resolutions so that they can be presented to Congress later this month,” Watson Chapel superintendent Danny Hazelwood said. “I recommend that the board show its support by passing this resolution and allowing me to forward a copy to NSBA.”

“Whereas the Budget Control Act of 2011 includes a provision to impose $1.2 trillion in across-the-board budget cuts to almost all federal programs including education that would become effective January 2, 2013, and whereas these across-the-board cuts would impact school districts during the 2013-2014 school year, with the exception of the Impact Aid program, with which a reduction would become effective this school year,” Hazelwood said, reading from the text of the resolution.

“These across-the-board budget cuts, also known as sequestration, would impact education by a reduction in funds of 8.2 percent or more and could result in larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, possible four-day school weeks, loss of extracurricular activities, and teacher and staff lay-offs,” Hazelwood said. “Sequestration would impact almost every public school system in the nation and the millions of students educated through programs such as Title I grants for disadvantaged students, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), English Language Acquisition, Career and Technical Education, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and more.”

“Watson Chapel School District as well as other public schools would be impacted nationwide by an estimated $2.7 billion loss from just three programs alone,” Hazelwood said. “[These programs are] Title I grants, IDEA special education state grants and Head Start that serve a combined 30.7 million children.”

Expulsion

In other business the board approved the expulsion of a male student from Watson Chapel High School for the remainder of the school year for violent behavior and insubordination toward a school employee.

Construction manager

The board approved a recommendation from Hazelwood to allow the superintendent to begin the process of hiring a construction manager to assist the district in the preparations for constructing a new K-1 school.

“I would like to advertise and start the process of hiring a construction manager for the new building,” Hazelwood said. “We want the construction manager to join the project team early in the architectural design process so that he or she can provide pricing and feedback at critical phases of design to ensure that the desired project can be delivered within the budget and on schedule.”

Jenkins agreement

The board approved the tuition agreement for the school year between the district and Jenkins Memorial for services provided to disabled district students at the facility.

“I urge you to accept it to provide services for our students,” Hazelwood said.

Hazelwood said that the agreement is for the district to pay $1,246 per student and that 15 district students are currently attending Jenkins.

Financial report

The board approved the October financial report.

Hazelwood said that the district had revenue of $2,346,771; expenditures of $2,173,631; and an ending balance of $6,994,467.

Personnel

The board approved Hazelwood’s recommendation to hire Jimmy Harris as a substitute bus driver and Dorthy Washington as a substitute cafeteria worker.

Hazelwood reported that he accepted the resignation effective Nov. 9 of Stefanie Riley as a teacher at L.L. Owen Elementary.

Board communications

The board voted to send board vice president Robin Barker as a delegate to the Delegate Assembly of the Arkansas School Board Annual State Conference in Little Rock Dec. 5.

Hazelwood reported that a monitoring visit of the district vocational program Oct. 16 went well.

“We had a very positive outcome,” Hazelwood said. “The monitoring visit was extremely beneficial to us and provides the vocational program with five years of not being monitored.”