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Education Board in step to finalize ’04-’05 budget


The Knox County Board of Education completed the first step toward finalizing the 2004-2005 general fund budget at its monthly work session April 19. Board members poured over the numbers before agreeing on the $316.4-million budget that is now in the hands of the Knox County Commission.

If approved, teachers can expect a $500 increase in pay. Money is also allocated for raises for all noncertified employees.


The need for an increase in teachers’ pay was reiterated when the board discussed its efforts to attract and increase the number of minority teachers, one of the county’s continued goals. Another goal is to restructure the school system’s central office.

Russ Oaks, the board’s director of communications, said the need for reorganization was uncovered during a management performance review about three years ago. He explained the purpose of reorganization was to line up complimentary functions.

“The biggest area of concern was with curriculum and instruction where certain functions didn’t need to fall under those departments,” he said.

Oaks said Superintendent Dr. Charles Lindsey met individually with members of the board before publicly presenting his proposal. Lindsey said his plan has gone through 10 revisions and noted that it will take one-and-a-half to two years to implement.

“Approximately eighty percent of the restructuring could be completed by the beginning of the next school year,” he said.

Even though the plan includes the addition of new positions, Lindsey said, “The cost to move from the present organizational structure to the new one is about the same and possibly a tad less.”

Three new staff members will be hired if the school board votes to pass Lindsey’s plan. The most notable: a deputy superintendent who reports directly to the superintendent.

“The deputy superintendent would free Lindsey to spend more time in the schools,” Oaks said. “Then he can better help them with their issues, so the children can be better helped with theirs.”

Lindsey also looks to hire a director of academic support and a supervisor of guidance and accountability who among other things will be responsible for assisting the schools’ guidance counselors. The supervisor for high school athletics, physical education and wellness will upgrade from part time to full time. Lindsey explained that staff currently holding the titles of coordinators would become directors; their duties would remain the same. Those positions include: directors of elementary instruction, media/libraries, secondary instruction, middle instruction, career and technology, research/evaluations, urban schools and public affairs.

Directors’ salaries will be determined by education and experience, and fall under the coordinator pay scale.

The plan also includes inter-departmental transfers. The copy center and print shop staff will move to public affairs. The supervisors of instructional technology and network technologies and the team leader of network technology will fall under the office of the assistant superintendent of finance and human resources. The plan also calls for a possible consolidation of a position in nutrition but those details are still being discussed.

While he contends that the reorganization plan is not set up to increase the central office budget, Oaks said, “We had a hiring freeze for about a year and a half. We’ve seen about a $600,000 savings. This could offset any costs.”

The proposed reorganization plan will be discussed further at the board’s next workshop May 3. A vote is scheduled for May 5.

 

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