The Martinsville City School Board is asking the Martinsville City Council for more than a half-million dollars above what the city provided for the current school year.
That $537,014 would make up about half the $1,114,331 the school system wants to add for its 2021,22 budget, which is about 5.1% more than last year.
About a half of that increase is to raise salaries and benefits for teachers and staff by 2% across the board. The plan also includes two new special education teachers and two new counselors to comply with new unfunded mandates by the state.
“It is imperative that we recruit and retain highly effective staff to support our students academically and mentally,” Superintendent Zeb Talley said. “That is why we are requesting funding for a 2% raise for staff as well as a step increase.”
In raw numbers MCPS is budgeting $22,980,446, and the city’s contribution would be $6,582,029. The raises would be $298,898, plus $240,833 divided among salary and benefit adjustments, automatic increases in salary based on years of experience, increases in special education teachers costs and internet connectivity increases.
Talley said at last month’s meeting that enrollment this year is up by 101 students compared to last year, and total projected enrollment for K,12, preschool and adult education in 2022 is estimated to be 1,905.
That enrollment would generate an additional $434,279 in state funding, but an expected decrease of $361,740 in sales tax and state grants would yield a predicted increase of only $72,539.
State funding represents 56% of projected revenues for MCPS, and local funds would provide 29%.
Student instruction represents 70% of the estimated expenses, and maintenance and operations would be about 12%.
Talley described the upcoming budget as somewhat of a moving target, with adjustments expected after an evaluation of positions vacated through retirement and attrition.
“We only lost one or two teachers even with the pandemic and the teachers shortage,” Talley said. “Enrollment is up, and we just want to keep moving forward.”
He said there would be an ongoing evaluation of current programs and a line-by-line budget review that could alter the specifics.
The first reading of the new budget occurred Monday night at the regular school board meeting. A public hearing has been set for 6 p.m. Jan. 25 in council chambers.
Talley made note of the school system’s successes including the accreditation of all four schools and the robotics team “Absolute Zero,” which finished in the top-five in world competition.
Biden’s 100 days
Talley said state officials are beginning to talk with school divisions about a plan proposed by President-elect Joe Biden that would return students to classrooms.
Martinsville schools have been all-virtual since the pandemic struck in March. Henry County Public Schools announced Monday that it would postpone its return to hybrid in-person schedules.
“The focus is on Biden wanting to send all students back to school in the next 100 days,” Talley said. “That’s in three months.”
In speaking with state officials, Talley said the emphasis will be on equity.
“With the pandemic we don’t want students to suffer,” Talley said. “We want to make sure they have what they need , food, clothing, shelter and everyone has to have broadband.”
Talley said he “hated to do it” but may resort to “knocking on a few doors” to encourage families of students who have not responded to requests to sign up for free internet service. He did not offer numbers of how many students are still without broadband or what percentage might be failing under his 100% remote learning environment.
“We don’t have a third of our students failing like other districts are reporting,” Talley said, a veiled reference to a report from last week’s meeting of the Henry County School Board. “But we want to have everyone connected [to broadband].
“Teachers and students have adjusted. … We’re ahead of the game, and I think that’s why we’re doing well. We may have year-round school — I’m looking forward to a busy summer.”
Also at the meeting, the board:
Approved the academic school calendar for 2021,22 that would run for 180 calendar days, starting on Aug. 9 and finishing on May 20.
Approved school hours as Martinsville High School, 8:25 a.m.,3:30 p.m.; Martinsville Middle School, 8:20,3:20; Albert Harris and Patrick Henry elementaries, 7:50,2:45; and CECC, 8,2:40.
Approved the resignations of Leandra Burke and Greg Dean.
Approved the retirements of Jerry Epling on April 1 and Tammie Carter and Donna Plaster at the end of this school year.
Approved the appointments of Kimberly Turner, secretary/bookkeeper and Jarrett Mays, teacher.
Approved as coaches: Matt Rowe, Varsity Boys Cross Country head Coach; Chris Manns , Varsity Girls Cross Country; head Coach Bobby Martin Sr., Varsity Football head Coach; Bobby Martin Jr. , Varsity Football Coordinator; Nate Hairston , Varsity Football Coordinator; Pam Hairston , Varsity Football Cheerleading; JD Draper , Varsity Golf head Coach; Tanner Sweitzer , Varsity Volleyball head Coach; Lynn Deckel, Varsity Volleyball assistant Coach; Tyrone Valentine, JV Football head Coach; Corey Barley, JV Football co-assistant Coach; Karyna Jones, JV Football Cheerleading; Tresita Holland, JV Volleyball head Coach; Pete Scouras, Middle School Golf head Coach; Eli Roberson, Middle School Football head coach;Troy Dalton , Middle School Football assistant coach; Diantha Williamson , Middle School Football Cheerleading co-head coach; Pam Hairston , Varsity Basketball Cheerleading, Jeff Adkins , Varsity Boys Basketball head coach; Damien Wainwright , Varsity Boys Basketball co-assistant coach; Bobby Martin Jr. , Varsity Boys Basketball co-assistant coach; Tresita Holland , Varsity Girls Basketball head coach; Charlie Holland , Varsity Girls Basketball assistant coach; Eli Roberson , Varsity Indoor Track co-head coach; Lynwood Dodson , Varsity Indoor Track co-head coach; Matt Rowe , Varsity Boys Swimming head coach; Lynn Jones , Varsity Girls Swimming head coach; Karyna Jones JV Basketball Cheerleading, Doug Hankins , Jv Boys Basketball head coach; Kelvin Jackson , JV Girls Basketball head coach; Morgan Belton , Middle School Basketball Cheerleading co-head coach; Diantha Williamson, Middle School Basketball Cheerleading co-head coach; Reggie Womack , Middle School Girls Basketball head coach; Mumia Deyali, Middle School Wrestling head Coach Troy Dalton , Middle School Wrestling assistant coach; Alton Moore , Varsity Girls Soccer assistant coach; Jeremy Scott , Varsity Boys Baseball head coach; Jonathan Haskew , Varsity Boys Baseball assistant coach; Lynn Jones , Varsity/JV Soccer Goalkeeper coach; Pete Scouras , Varsity Boys Soccer head coach; Ricardo Dalton, Varsity Boys Soccer assistant coach; Daniel Sechrist, Varsity Boys Tennis head coach; Damien Wainwright, Varsity Girls Tennis head coach; Lynne Deckel, JV Girls Soccer head coach; Patrick Sullivan, JV Boys Soccer head coach; Troy Dalton, Middle School Boys Baseball assistant coach; Eli Roberson, Middle School Boys Outdoor Track head coach; Matt Rowe, Middle School Boys Soccer head coach; Kelvin Jackson, Middle School Girls Outdoor Track head coach; Tresita Holland, Middle School Girls Soccer head coach; LC Jones, Middle School Girls Softball head coach.
Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt.