Board of education finalizes needs list
LEDGER – The Mitchell County Board of Education at a special meeting this past Thursday unanimously approved its final list of funding needs to present to the Board of County Commissioners before the Thursday, June 14, public hearing about the county budget.
The board will request funding for a day treatment program housed at Greenlee Primary School. If the county is unable to find a qualified, part-time teacher for the position, the board requests the funds to be instead used for the hiring of a second STEM teacher.
Board member Sherry Bell, who was appointed to serve on the committee to help hire a day treatment teacher, said finding a qualified candidate who will be willing to work part-time may be difficult.
“If the person has one year of experience but no behavioral background, I’m not sure they’d still be the best person,” Bell said. “You have to get somebody in there who has behavioral experience or you’re setting the whole program up for failure.”
Superintendent Chad Calhoun said the job description would list behavioral experience as a preferred skill.
The board met at the beginning of May and unanimously approved to request funding for a day treatment program, the STEM program, the addition of a school resource officer, more school counselors and additional social workers as its final list of top needs.
The board met in special session this past week after Calhoun was notified by the Board of Commissioners of how much funding is set to come from the county in the proposed budget.
“We had multiple conversations with the Board of Commissioners chair and vice chair with our concerns the original request was not in the best interest of the school system,” said Angie Burleson, board chair. “We need to have further discussions and possibly submit a request that will better serve our students.”
The board members all expressed their optimism for the STEM program and their desire to keep it funded. Calhoun added the funding for the county’s one STEM teacher who is currently in place could likely come out of the fund balance for a year or two, if necessary.
Beyond that, he added, the status may be in question without state grants, additional state funding or special requests to the commissioners.
Board member Sam Blevins praised the STEM program for its stability and added if a day treatment teacher isn’t added, the funds would instead go to a program that is already well-established and important.
“You’ve got your STEM heading in the right direction and you can see that,” Blevins said. “It’s a successful program. It’s established and heading in the right direction with their grades. The other program, as much as I want it, isn’t yet established. We’ve already got a good program in STEM going. It’s there. The part-time position is very important but it’s not there yet.”