By DAVID GREEN
School finances might show some improvement in the next fiscal year, predicts Morenci finance director Erica Metcalf.
Metcalf went through various plusses and minuses for the 2013-14 school year at a board of education committee meeting June 3. She sees possible increases in some areas and declines in revenue in others, but overall Metcalf sees more positives than in recent years.
“It’s the first crack that we’ve seen collectively as a state, an indication that there’s hope,” she said. “While this is good news, we’ve still got a battle to fight.”
Enrollment levels will remain an unknown until school gets underway in September and some funding sources are not clear.
The annual budget hearing is scheduled at 7 p.m. June 26 and Metcalf hopes to have more information by then.
She put funding into perspective by noting that the projected revenue for the next school year is still lower than what the district received seven years ago. Meanwhile, retirement and insurance costs have increased during that time while enrollment has dropped significantly.
“With the foundation allowance less than it was in 2006-07, shouldn’t we roll salaries back to where they were then?” asked board president Scott Merillat.
It’s very alarming to look at the reductions, Metcalf said.
“There’s still a lot of work to do and a lot can happen between now and [the start of school],” she said.
“We need to look back at 2006-07 to see what we were doing back then to make things work at that level,” said board member Laura Spencer.
Enrollment has shrunk by nearly 100 students since then, Metcalf pointed out.
Spencer wants to make sure there’s money in the budget for curriculum needs and to make sure teachers have “the right tools.”
She suggested the need for more planning to lay out the needs and goals of the district.
“We need a bigger plan than just the current year,” she said. “It’s not that you’re going to stick with the plan necessarily. It’s revisited every year.”
TEACHER-LEADER—Fifth grade teacher Melissa Elliott spoke to the board about a proposal to have a teacher-leader in place at the elementary school to serve in a leadership position when the principal is not in the building. She learned about the concept from a substitute teacher.
All teachers interested in participating would take turns in filling the post for two week blocks of time. A list of duties would be prepared for the person to accomplish.
It would place a familiar face in the building to give security to children and to serve as a liaison to parents and to whoever is hired to serve as the administrator.
Board members have discussed hiring a K-12 principal who wouldn’t be in the elementary building all the time.
In addition, the board read a letter from art teacher Kym Ries whose daughter observed a similar concept in a Minnesota school.
In that case, a teacher with an interest in administration serves as a dean of students for two years to assist the principal.