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School board signs off on budget

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

By DREW EARY - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Martinsville School Board on Monday unanimously approved the final version of the school system's 2007-2008 budget.

The total school budget will be $23,036,296. The city's share is $6,704,251, according to figures approved at the June 5 Martinsville City Council meeting where that body approved the budget.

This city contribution is about $150,000 short of what the school board requested. The school system also will have to pay about $50,000 to have a second resource officer at the middle school. The high school resource officer will be paid by the police department.

School Superintendent Scott Kizner said the total adjustment to be made is about $200,000. He said he believes the school system will be able to do that by "delaying filling other vacant positions in the school system."�

Some board members seemed pleased with the final budget. Although it was less than expected, at one point former City Manager Dan Collins had suggested cutting as much as $2 million from the school system.

"I would like to publicly thank the city council for the allocation this year," said Jim Johnson, school board chairman.

In other business Monday night at its regular meeting, the board:

"¢ Approved the purchase of new school buses. According to Kizner, the replacement of buses is necessary as one of the vehicles being replaced is a 1980 model. Of the eight buses being replaced, three will be kept by the school system as backup vehicles, one will be used for parts to repair other buses and the rest will be auctioned off as part of a school surplus auction on June 23 and 30.

"¢ Kizner reminded parents of incoming kindergarten students to register their students either at the school board office or at one of the elementary schools. He said early registration is beneficial so that the school system will be able to properly estimate class sizes. "Please don't wait, do it now," he urged parents.

"¢ Authorized Kizner to employ personnel during the summer and to assign teachers, principals, and assistant principals. These authorizations were approved as per state law.

"¢ Reviewed the progress of the Accelerated College Education (ACE) program, which allows Martinsville High School students to earn an associate degree from Patrick Henry Community College during their junior and senior years at the MHS.

The program allows students to earn 35 college credits during their junior year and 28 credits during their senior year. According to MHS Principal Tom Fitzgibbons, who gave the report, all students in the "guinea pig" group of 20 students passed the classes, earning a total of 35 college credits for their first year of the two-year program. Of the participating ACE students, 90 percent earned the Big M award, the system's highest academic honor, Fitzgibbons said.

Fitzgibbon said 49 students applied for the program for next year and 22 have been accepted, with two vacancies remaining. Criteria for participation includes grade point average and a student's score on a test PHCC uses to place students.

The program costs $25 per credit hour. School board member Robert Williams remarked that this could represent a substantial cost savings for parents of participants.

Williams said his only concern is of the maturity level of students and their adjustment to entering college as a junior at age 18. Kizner said that although this is possible, if the students choose to do so, they also may want to spend four years pursuing a double major or taking a lighter class load.

"¢ Reviewed the schools' gifted program and its goals for the 2006-2007 school year. According to the review, the gifted program met many of its goals, such as referring more students through the Project Promise program, in-class training for gifted program teachers was held in the middle school through teaching the advanced English class, and several gifted program staff members attended conferences and workshops related to gifted education.

"¢ Reviewed the Discipline Review Committee report. The committee decides if a student will receive either an extended suspension, which is longer than 10 days, or be expelled, or removed from school for more than a year. According to the committee, only four incidents were reviewed during the 2006-2007 school year, which is the fewest the committee has ever reviewed, according to Kizner. This is down from more than 20 cases that the committee reviewed durring the 2004-2005 school year, the committee's first year.

"¢ Approved a "No Child Left Behind" Resolution which urges 5th District U.S. Rep. Virgil H. Goode, Jr., R-Rocky Mount, to support H.R. 648, a bill that seeks to address state and local school board concerns about the "No Child Left Behind" legislation, by co-sponsoring the bill. The resolution also urgesf state Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Ridgeway, and Dels. Ward Armstrong, Danny Marshall and Robert Hurt to support the bill.

"¢ Kizner noted that Martinsville Schools will begin using "Alert Call," an emergency notification service, effective July 1 as a means of notifying parents of school closings and delays. Kizner said that there will be a presentation on the system at the next school board meeting on Aug. 13.


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