Board talks strategic priority improvements, approves budget resolution
Despite funding cuts, Union County Public Schools made progress on their strategic planning goals over the last three years.
Dr. Mary Ellis, Deputy Superintendent of Instructional Programs, addressed the Board of Education Tuesday, Oct. 4. Her presentation examined Strategic Priority 1, “high achieving and globally competitive students.”
Ellis began with a quote by Coach Vince Lombardi that says, “In the pursuit of perfection, we shall attain excellence.” Ellis explained that setting the bar high for Union County’s schools has been the key element in bringing about the progress that has been made over the past several years.
The presentation outlined the areas of Union County where considerable progress has been made and examined other areas where progress is needed the most. Ellis reported that the county has reached a record high in meeting expected or high growth in the NC ABC’s growth model.
“We are still 3.9 points shy of perfection there, but it’s the closest to it we’ve been,” Ellis said. “We’re sniffing perfection. Maybe we’ll get on to it, but you can see a steady increase of the ABC’s.”
Ellis also reported the graduation rate of students in Union County public schools increased from 80.7 percent to 89.1 percent over the last three years. To prevent dropout, leaders from schools of all ages in Union County examined the barriers to graduation and asked themselves what they could do to help.
A large number of students dropping out were students who had also become pregnant and given birth before graduation. Education officials are working to prevent dropout by securing grants that will allow students with young children to receive paid quality daycare up until graduation.
This policy was recently implemented in Union County with 12 eligible students. All 12 students decided to stay in school and continue their education.
“Dropping out because you had a baby is no longer an option, because we’ve removed all the obstacles,” Ellis said.
Officials said they would like to see more progress in the area of students’ developing computer skills. A survey in which a lower number of students agreed that they were taught computer skills was a concern.
“The state decided a couple of years ago to do away with computer teachers at the middle school level,” Ellis said. “So now we’ve got keyboarding in seventh grade in our middle schools in addition to the academic core teachers working with that. I do want that number to go higher because that is part and parcel to getting into college and doing well.”
Budget for 2011-2012 fiscal year finally settled
To comply with developing the changing conditions in the educational system, the board made a unanimous decision to approve a budget resolution for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
Changes to the state budget reflect an increase of 459 students. Additional adjustments were made for support services and to cover hospital insurance and retirement funds for employees.
Federal budget adjustments include a decrease in funds for nutrition services. According to Chief Finance Officer Dan Karpinski, a part of this decrease is due to fewer students purchasing school meals because of rising prices.
“As we experienced this year, we may have to increase prices in the future, but we’re going to try to do the best job we can to provide the best meals for our students,” Karpinski said.
After examining the changes, Superintendent Ed Davis recommended that the board approve the budget resolution, and the board voted unanimously in favor of the budget. After the resolution, the grand total of the combined budgets for the 2011-2012 fiscal year is $351,648,269.