HALEYVILLE - As personnel adjustments are being made over the next month at Haleyville City Schools, the idea for an additional elementary assistant principal to work with the existing principals has been brought to the table for discussion.
At the March 16, work session of the Haleyville Board of Education, HCS Superintendent Dr. Holly Sutherland brought this option to the board for discussion and consideration. Currently, Tammy Hatton serves as elementary principal, with Emily Faulkner as assistant principal.
The Alabama Legislature has indicated the average daily membership or average of students attending a school can determine if the school can be funded with an additional assistant principal unit to help handle the size of the school, school officials explained.
Currently, enrollment at HES varies, but is approximately at an average of 800 students, officials added.
“We’re talking through this financially as well as looking at numbers. It would be my suggestion and my opinion, just for something for you to think about, is we look at adding another assistant principal to the elementary school,” Sutherland suggested to the board.
“They have gotten so big in number,” she added. “With issues they have and training they have, if one person is out and you have 800 kids plus 150 adults in that building, it can be overwhelming for one person.”
Sutherland suggested the board consider an administrator for kindergarten through 2nd grade, as well as an administrator for grades 3-5. These would work with Hatton in daily duties at the school.
This way, curriculum could be looked at more in-depth for K-3, as well as curriculum studied more in-depth for 3-5, as behaviors as well as teachers are very different, Sutherland continued to explain.
“I think it’s time for us to really look at that because we have increasing needs over there,” Sutherland pointed out.
“It is becoming a lot with all the different needs and with the discipline and some of those things. Making sure that kids are safe and that we have specific people who are working with curriculum for specific grade levels, I think helps,” Sutherland continued.
Elsewhere through the system, the middle school and high school are also solid in numbers, Sutherland added.
Sutherland noted that personnel positions may have to be shifted around or an aide added at the high school due to higher numbers of special education students than in the past.
Gaps between CNP funding and spending addressed
Sutherland related some vital information regarding the school system’s child nutrition program, based on trips made recently by HCS CNP Director Emma Anne Hallman to Washington D.C. and to Montgomery, in her capacity as president-elect for the Alabama School Nutrition Association.
“One of the things they are looking at is the amount of local debt that is being incurred by schools because of the cost of food, the cost of supplies, all of those things they are going through,” Sutherland informed board members.
“One of the things we are going to look at moving forward is advocating (for) more money for those gaps in CNP programs,” Sutherland added.
One solution could be an overall school free and reduced program, which has been used by other school systems, Sutherland explained.
One option would be offering students a free breakfast, some type of program that will feed kids who may not be eating due to financial struggles, if they do not qualify for free and reduced price meals.
All of these things are efforts of ensuring equity in the school meal program, Sutherland said.
“We’re trying to close those gaps between rising food costs and shortages in food, as well as where our kids are so their programs can continue to be successful,” Sutherland continued.
Discussion of system finances
During a discussion of finances at the work session, Chief School Finance Officer Candy Marbutt explained that February expenditures totaled $1,662,990.77, showing a breakdown of figures between payables and payroll.
Payables, Marbutt explained, had increased from the previous month and were listed as $325,552.
“Anything stick out?” asked Board Member Boo Haughton.
“Not really,” responded Marbutt, adding that maintenance costs had increased, as well as about $45,000 in software renewals for just one month.
“That was significant,” Marbutt said. “We don’t have that many usually that fall at one time.”
Marbutt said the school also had their annual bus payment of $11,000 that was made for buses they use from the Winston County school system.
The maintenance was for repairs of the HVAC units due to a lightning strike, board members discussed.
“Lightning damage was our insurance claim,” Marbutt explained in a detailed breakdown of figures to board members. “So that was a big part of the maintenance.”
“Are the funds still available to finish up the outdoor classroom?” Board Member Donna Jones asked.
Sutherland responded that weather had caused delays in the construction, but assured the project would be completed.
“We have the plan and everything for the outdoor classroom. It’s simply a weather issue,” Sutherland said.
A breakdown of the three primary pots of money for the school system, shows $72,000 in state funds, $66,000 in federal funds and $186,000 in local funds, all of which fall within normal range, Marbutt explained.
The school system has 3.57 months of reserve on hand, compared to 3.39 months of reserve last month and prior year 3.56 for February, 2021, according to Marbutt.
“Looking back, we have not had that much months (of reserve) on hand since 2018,” she pointed out. “That’s pretty strong.”
The child nutrition program is also holding strong with revenues and expenditures, with 2.13 months of reserve on hand, Marbutt added.
Marbutt then said the school had a CD for $230,000 that came up for renewal, so Marbutt reached out to various entities in town, with ALFA returning the best bid with the interest rate of 4.10 percent.
School calendar approved without virtual days
After the school calendar for 2023-2024 was voted down in a 3-2 vote at the last regular meeting, the calendar again came up for approval at the board’s March 16, regular meeting.
“No virtual days on this calendar, correct?” asked Haughton.
“Correct,” responded Sutherland.
Hearing that, Haughton made a motion to approve the calendar, with Brian Vickery seconding the motion and all board members voting in favor, including Vickery, Haughton, Beth McAlpine, Jones and Chad Tidwell.
The calendar was voted down at the last regular meeting due to concern from some board members about virtual days not being needed in the calendar and that such days had a negative effect on students overall academic performance.
Voting no at that meeting were McAlpine, Haughton and Tidwell, with now-former member Kris Burleson and Jones voting in favor, so the motion failed on the 3-2 vote.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.