06/02/09 — Schools waiting for word on funds

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Schools waiting for word on funds

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 2, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County Public Schools is anxiously awaiting the state's budget, with hopes there will be no drastic cuts, the schools superintendent told the Board of Education Monday night.

Dr. Steven Taylor called the budget a "touchy situation," the "toughest ever" in the nine years he has been school superintendent. It has put administrators and officials in a holding pattern until the House releases its figures, he said.

Taylor had said last week that no decisions can be made regarding hiring teachers or renewing contracts until the state budget is in.

"We're waiting for the final budget plan," he told the board Monday night. "We know we have staff waiting out there, wondering if they'll have a job. We still don't know the finality of that. There could be cuts in lots of areas. We really are trying to salvage all areas we can."

Taylor had also said earlier that he is sensitive to the situation being faced by staff and educators across the county as they await the outcome of the state budget. He expressed his reluctance to speak further until decisions have been handed down, noting the district's desire to preserve as many jobs and programs as possible.

"As soon as we have the final budget and can come back to you, we certainly will do that," he said.

Meanwhile, the board approved an interim budget for the next three months, based on the 2008-09 figures. The measure is routinely done when budgets are not approved at the state level, so as to allow the district to meet expenses, explained Nan Barwick, assistant superintendent for finance.

The interim budget, for $39 million, includes $5.5 million in local funding, $27.52 million in state dollars, $3.2 million in federal money, $2.4 million for food services, and $625,000 for capital outlay.

The board also heard a brief update on several facility projects. The $23 million facilities plan had earlier been stalled, except for three projects already approved for funding.

Prentice Uzzell from R.N. Rouse architectural firm said "the best news is that we have started these projects," referring to efforts started at two of three schools on the plan.

Work has recently begun at Brogden Primary School and Greenwood, and is expected to begin at Mount Olive Middle June 10, after school is out for the summer since the project is interior in nature.

The district also plans to hold a dedicattion for the new playground at Brogden Primary on Wednesday morning, officials said.

The only other phase for current projects, Uzzell said, will be installing air conditioning to gymnasiums and cafeterias at Greenwood and Mount Olive middle schools.

Completion dates for the latest round of projects, he added, are expected to be April 2010 for Brogden, August 2009 for Mount Olive, and December 2009 for Greenwood. Air conditioning projects should be finished by August 2009.