School Board OKs $37.6 million budget for 2017-18 fiscal year

The Lebanon School Board approved a $37.6 million district budget for 2017-18, with a 3-2 vote at the June 8 board meeting.

The budget is based on $8.2 billion in state school funding for the biennium. That budget will mean the loss of seven full-time positions – cuts in teaching staff equivalent to 6.08 FTE and .95 FTE in classified staff.

Board members Mike Martin and Kellie Weber voted against approving the budget as presented, expressing concerns about staff reductions and Title I funding.

Weber said she felt approving the budget made it appear they endorse it.

Martin asked what would happen if they did not approve the budget.

“Then we will not be able to spend money,” said Finance Director Linda Darling. “We would have to close the doors and no one would get paid.”

Weber took the opportunity during board member comments to voice another concern about the budget.

“Because last board meeting, I know money, money, money, money, but we talked about where we’re going to find money for a principal at Lacomb,” Weber said. “One of the first things that was mentioned to be cut was the house-building program.

“As my dying breath on School Board, please do not cut that program. I think that career and technical education is so important. That is a program that will touch so many students in so many ways. Just please, please find the money somewhere and please keep that program.”

Assistant Superintendent Bo Yates said Eric Frazier, construction teacher at Lebanon High School, had met with him that day about putting a deposit down on a lot for the program.

Yates also said he is working with the City of Lebanon to combine resources.

“I’m working with the city on an intergovernmental agreement to do our grounds with them,” Yates said. “We’ll save some money and improve the quality.”

He said it makes sense from a community standpoint to work with the city.

“The more we work with them and the more we share resources, the cheaper it becomes,” Yates said. “We can share equipment. It’s a better way to do business in a small community.”

The board also approved allowing the superintendent or a designee to OK early enrollment in kindergarten on an individual basis.

“There are a lot of people that will put their kid in kindergarten and let their kids repeat,” Weber said.

Superintendent Rob Hess said the district has allowed early enrollment in the past.

“What we learned is that a majority struggled socially and emotionally,” Hess said. “It’s easier to advance academically than advance socially.”

The state allows a 30-day window for children born near the Sept. 1 cut-off date, but the district has to have a policy, he added.

The June 8 board meeting was the last with the current board members. Newly elected board members Tom Oliver and Nick Brooks will be sworn in at the next board meeting, scheduled for July 12, to replace Jerry Williams and Weber.