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Liberty schools budgeting for more students
Board expecting enrollment gain in 2014-15
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The Liberty County Board of Education on Tuesday recognized former Liberty County High School student Donnie Pulliam for earning a $1,000 scholarship from the National Society of High School Scholars. Pulliam is a freshman at Moorehouse College. From left are Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee, Pulliam, LCHS Principal Paula Scott and BoE Chairwoman Lily Baker. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge

The Liberty County Board of Education was informed Tuesday that school administrators are busy shaping a budget for the 2014-15 school year. School-board members were told that before a final draft budget can be presented, the district must clear three hurdles: projecting enrollment and teacher allocations, developing a budget for capital projects and estimating costs for advancing technology in the schools.
The enrollment numbers for this school year are 4,563 at the elementary-school level, and the projected enrollment for the system’s elementary schools for 2014-15 is 4,720 — an estimated gain of 157 students, according to Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Jason Rogers.
Rogers said middle-school enrollment stands at 2,339 this year, and is projected to be 2,317 next school year — a loss of 22 students.
The high schools should gain 185 students next year, up from 2,722 this year, Rogers said. Bradwell Institute currently has 1,648 students and is projected to gain 101 students next year. Liberty County High School has 1,074 students this year, and should increase its enrollment by 84 in 2014-15.
School administrators estimate the system will increase enrollment by a total of 320 students for next school year, the assistant superintendent said.
Monitoring enrollment will help determine the number of teachers needed in classrooms, according to Rogers. The first round of teacher approvals was made Tuesday, he said.
The assistant superintendent said staff also will continue to monitor special local option sales tax revenues.
“Collections for January were up approximately $63,000 over collections as compared to December (2013),” Rogers said. “However, when you compare the amount of collections for this January as compared to January in the prior year, it is down approximately $56,000.”
SPLOST money can be used only for capital projects, including the construction of new facilities, repair of existing structures and for infrastructure improvements.
Rogers said transportation is another major budgetary consideration. The district will continue to examine vehicle-maintenance needs and possible replacement of buses.
Administrators also are looking to establish a 100 percent Apple environment in the classrooms appropriate to each grade level, Rogers said. This means the existing personal-computer inventory must be evaluated. Rogers explained the system’s goal is to provide teachers and students with computer equipment that is no more than three years old. School officials will look into leasing options for wireless-access points, he said.
The assistant superintendent said the district will strive to carry over funds in order to prepare for anticipated federal budget cuts.
“We anticipate an increase in state funds; however, we are tentatively planning for an approximate 6-8 percent cut in our federal funds,” he said.
In other school-board business:
•    The BoE approved the creation of two new central office positions — chief financial officer and coordinator for evaluation, assessment and accountability. The CFO will report to Superintendent Dr. Valya S. Lee and will be a non-contract employee. The CFO will “ensure that finance functions and activities are operated in an efficient and effective manner and to account for all system funds in accordance with all applicable regulations and laws.”
The coordinator will report to Mary Alexander, the assistant superintendent for student services, and will be a contract employee. The coordinator will “provide support to the teaching and learning department and schools in implementing and interpreting the state and local testing program, as well as oversee all areas of accountability surrounding the process. In addition, provide guidance and assistance in disseminating and interpreting related data and other applicable student information with the overall goal to improve student achievement.”
Salaries for both jobs will be consistent with the system’s approved salary schedule.
•    School-board members chose Becky Carter to represent the board at the Georgia School Boards Association Delegate Assembly in Savannah on June 13. Chairwoman Lily Baker was chosen as alternate.
•    Out-of-state travel requests were approved for Susan Nobles, Bobby Tanner, Kimberly Lewis, Thomas Thornton and Tonya Williams to attend training at the National Math and Science Initiative AP Mock Readings on March 28 in Dallas, Texas. Educators’ travel expenses will be paid by a NMSI grant.
•    Following an executive session, the board approved the hiring of a speech-language pathologist and accepted resignations from an assistant principal, a teacher, a speech-language pathologist and two response-to-intervention coordinators.

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