Huntingdon School Board passes $10.2 Mil budget with no tax increase

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Huntingdon Special School District Board of Education members had a busy night of business Thursday that included the passage of the 2022-2023 budget.

Director of Schools Dr. Jonathan Kee told board members that the total balanced budget of $15,796,321 was $865,287 less than last year’s.

The General Purpose budget of $10,294,631 is an increase of $321,841 over the previous budget. It provides for a 2 percent raise for certified employees plus a one-time bonus of $750. Non-certified employees will receive a $2.64 hourly wage increase plus a one-time bonus of $500.

There is no increase in the property tax rate of $1.1211 per $100 of assessed property. The tax rate is divided this way: $0.811 for the General Purpose Fund and $0.2500 for Debt Service that is listed as $471,225, $1,225 more than last year..

Included in the Federal Projects amount of $4,280,083 is ESSER 2. funds of $1,096,901 and a 3.0 grant allocation. This is $1,196,367 less than last year’s amount. The Cafeteria Fund of $785,382 is $11,114 more than last year.

Substitute teaches will receive a pay raise in the fall, according to the action taken at the Thursday night meeting.

“Although pay for substitute teachers was increased last year, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find substitutes,” said Kee. “Non -certified teachers are currently receiving $60 and certified $65 a day.”

The increased pay is $70 for non-certified and $80 for certified teachers for the daily rate.

All students in the Huntingdon Special School District will continue receiving free breakfasts although the federal government did not extend a waiver. The breakfasts will be offered at the school district’s expense. Faculty breakfasts are $1.50 and visitors will pay $1.75 at all three schools.

Student lunches will increase by 25 cents, making them $2.25 at the primary and middle schools and $2.75 at the high school. There are no changes in the faculty and visitor lunch prices.

Board Policy and Handbook Updates

• A handbook change was passed regarding the requirement of a signed note by a doctor on student absenteeism.Students in K-3 can miss up to ten days before a note from the doctor is required. In grades 4 – 12, a doctor’s note is required after five days.

• A board policy concerning an Emergency Preparedness Plan was updated. School districts are now required to conduct at least one virtual learning drill each year. The drill will accurately reflect how students will transition to remote learning in the event of a disruption to school operations. The Tenn. Dept. of Education is to develop guidance to assist school district’s in conducting remote learning drills.

* School board members passed an updated Credit Recovery Policy. The State Board of Education revised the requirements for assigning credit recovery grades. Under the updated policy, districts utilizing a locally-adopted grading scale that differs from the uniform grading scale shall assign a letter grade of D to a student passing credit recovery. Huntingdon uses the uniform grading scale, but will upgrade the current policy to outline these updates.

• Board members changed the grading system according to a new state law in grades 9 – 12 beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. Instead of using a seven-point scale, grades will now be reported on a ten-point scale for purposes of application for post secondary financial assistance. The state Board of Education is expected to update their grading scale in response to this legislation. An A is 90-100, B is 80-89, C is 70-79, D is 60-69, and F is 0-59.

• A new board policy has been developed concerning the hiring of retired teachers due to the increased vacancies across the state. The General Assembly passed a law allowing an additional option for  employing retirees. Information was removed from three other policies to help provide clarity.

• The board voted to increase the bidding threshold to $50,000 before it has to be advertised in a newspaper.

Other Business

Board members were informed about the TSBA Fall District meeting in Paris Sept. 13.

• Board members agreed to join the TN School of Systems for Equity at a cost of $1,913.

• Such items as computers monitors and keyboards and other items that are obsolete were declared as surplus.

• Kee was granted permission to hire two educational assistants, although the salaries were not included in the budget.

• Budget amendments were approved.

• The 2022-2023 school district’s staff development calendar, the School Nutrition Program, and the Differentiated Pay Plan were approved.

• The statutory bond for the director of schools as fiscal agent with TN Risk Management Trust was approved.

• The following new employees were acknowledged: Lindsey Johnson, second grade teacher at primary school; Chesley Johnson and Audrea Abbott as educational assistants; and Caitlin Smith as health services coordinator.

• The retirements of the following personnel were acknowledged: Linda Bales, technology coordinator; Becky Orr, central office accounting; and Eric Swenson, high school physical education teacher who will remain on a 120-day contract; and Lorine Davis, middle school secretary.

Updates and Reminders

• The purchase of the property on Hawkins Lane behind the primary school has been finalized, Kee said. The town of Huntingdon will clear the property.

• Recently, the HHS Mustang Mentors won the character.org Promising Practice award. One hundred fifty-two promising practices were recognized across the country and HHS was one of only five schools in Tennessee.

• Kee said the school system applied for $49,000 to develop the outdoor environmental learning lab at the primary school and has received it.

ª The next board meeting will be July 21 at 6 p.m.

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