Oxford School District creates preliminary budget without fed funds

Published 10:37 am Monday, June 5, 2017

Representatives on the school board for the Oxford School District debated on the fates of three positions that could be cut with the new budget for the next school year.

With the federal spending amount on education still not clear (in regards to Title II funds), but seeming unlikely that it will materialize, the OSD made a preliminary budget excluding the funds.  A final budget is planned for the end of the month and the district’s financial officer, Chuck Rainey, says will be around $51 million.

“In ’18-’19 it’s likely we’ll take a hit from state funding,” Rainey said. “Even for … this year we had cuts totaling a little bit more than $150,000. When you have a budget that’s 80 percent people, if we get to a situation where we get those drastic cuts, it’s not very long before we get to the bone. When I say ‘the bone,’ I mean the people.”

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3 positions in doubt

The three positions that are currently up in the air are a technology interventionist for Bramlett Elementary, an English language interventionist at Oxford Elementary and a reading specialist at Della Davidson Elementary.

“The interventionist is the one who will be working with students,” Superintendent Brian Harvey said. “We still have an interventionist at every school and we will continue to have an interventionist at every school. We have a reading specialist at every school save for the high school. Those things will continue. This is a supplemental position that has to be supplemental per title funds.”

The board also discussed the need to replenish the fund balance for the future and expanding the Pre-K program in the district. As of this moment, the expansion of Pre-K is not in the budget.

“When you look at Pre-K, that’s a teacher which is $55,000- $60,000 and a teacher’s assistant,” Harvey said. “And then, one of the reasons we’re not doing it this year is that we really don’t have the space to do it. We can do it one class, but then we’d have to cut $90,000.”

Board President Marian Barksdale proposed that the board hears from principals at the schools regarding which of the three positions should be of the highest priority.

“Do we need a ranking from principals regarding if we could only fund a position or a combination of positions; what would be the most supportive?” she asked. “Would it be the reading interventionist at Della, would it be the English Language Learner interventionist at (Oxford Elementary)? This is where office administration comes into play with making a recommendation. I don’t see how we could fund all three positions. We need some guidance.”

The board passed motions for Harvey to come up with his own recommendation, as well. They also passed a motion for an analysis of the learning systems (or tiers) for students who would need the interventionists in the schools.

“I don’t mind giving a recommendation, and it won’t be liked by everybody no matter what it is,” Harvey said. “It could be to fund all three or it could be to cut all three. But it will take into account everything.”