The tough economy and state mandates
have made this year especially challenging for school systems across
Tennessee. The result has meant the loss of jobs, cuts in benefits
and systems seeking help from their local legislations to help them
Monroe County, however, has avoided the
shortfall once again.
"We're operating on a tight
budget," said Director of Schools Mike Lowry. "But school systems
around us are struggling more. We haven't had to cut positions or
benefits, or ask the County Commission for additional money.
Considering everything, we've done great with what we have to work
Some notable expenses and losses the
school system is dealing with for the 2013-2014 fiscal year include:
To date for the 2013-2014 school year,
the sequester resulted in the following losses in Federal Programs
• Title I (funding for disadvantaged
• Title II (professional development
and teacher trainings)- $14,360
• Title III (English Language
• Title VI (rural and low income
school systems)- $5,266
• Total sequestration reduction= $69,654
"In IDEA (Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act), otherwise known as special education,
the total reduction hit was $84,000," Federal Programs Director Dan
Schlafer told The Advocate & Democrat.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) also took a hit. The Perkins IV Budget for 2012-2013 was $124,181,
but for 2013-2014, the budget is only $113,519.
"Our money was cut, but we are very
happy with what we did receive," said CTE Director Elton Frerichs.
The push for school safety
In a push for school safety, the school
system has added four school resource officers (SROs). Through an
agreement with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the county
school system has placed a full-time SRO in Rural Vale Elementary
School, Coker Creek Elementary School and Madisonville Primary
School. In addition, Madisonville Intermediate School obtained a SRO
through an agreement with the City of Madisonville.
"We're sharing the cost," said
Lowry. "They pay half of their salaries and we pay half. But we
want our students to feel safe in school."
Renovations and upgrades
A few school renovations and
maintenance projects will be completed for this school year. Among
those are the finishing of three middle school gymnasium floors,
updating security items, installing a fence around Madisonville
Primary School, installing key card systems at Monroe Academy
and Rural Vale Elementary, completing the current room renovations at
Madisonville Middle School (making a dressing room into two
classrooms), finishing the roof project at Coker Creek
Elementary School, and finishing up the lighting project that began
"We will make money on the lighting
project in the long run," said Lowry, noting it would be energy
With state testing moving to online in
2014, the technology department is making upgrades to the computer
"We will be getting approximately $400,000 from the state to help improve the computer system," said Lowry.
In addition, Technology Director Gary
Sharp has plans to add about 750 new computers for the school system,
replace some existing computer labs, add some labs, add a
computer technician, fill the vacant instruction coach position
and install a fiber line through Coker Creek.
Absorbing athletic burdens
The high school athletic departments
will each get $10,000 to help with transportation costs to away games
this school year. In addition, the school system had agreed to
consume the utilities bills for the athletic complexes.
"We have shared with principals that
they need to keep within their individual budgets for the
electricity," said Lowry. "They need to be very conservative
on the usage, as much as possible."
See full story in the Sunday, Aug. 25, edition of The Advocate & Democrat.