Budget finalized for school year

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The Socorro Consolidated Schools Board of Education finalized its 2012-2013 budget, having received $300,000 in supplementary funding from the Public Education Department.

This came after a request for $550,000 in supplementary funding. In order to balance the budget, the board has made further cuts to administrative days and professional leave.

Each month, the board will be required to send a budget report to the PED in order to maintain transparency with its funding. At mid-year, the PED can review the district’s situation and adapt its arrangement from there.

However, some good budgetary news came to the board. The board’s budget analyst forgot to carry funds over from the previous year, so $363,180 have been found to pay for the remainder of the utilities upgrades to Socorro High School. This money came from a specific bond unrelated to the main budget.

An anticipated Reads to Lead grant was not approved by the state this year. Superintendent Randall Earwood requested a copy of the criteria which were used to evaluate the district’s eligibility for the grant. This grant was not included as part of the budget, so the board will not need to make any cuts to compensate.

In other news, the board approved an organizational chart of its employees. This chart streamlined multiple changes to existing positions, removed positions and new positions. Only one major position is unfilled right now. The position of director of curriculum and instruction, previously held by George Schumpelt and titled assistant superintendent for curriculum, is still unfilled.

Discussion was opened on whether or not the board would require school principals to attend its regular meetings. It was also suggested that principals would be asked to present reports on their schools. Part of the intention was to improve accountability regarding attendance and dropouts, and to show what responses have been taken to deal with such problems. Board Secretary Dawn Weaver specifically requested written and oral report on the general states of education at each school. Earwood said he would draft a template report. The board will act on this at an upcoming meeting.

The board voted to make use of an exception to its Nepotism policy and hire Karen Earwood, already an experienced K-12 teacher. The board’s Nepotism policy specifically allows hiring the qualified spouse of the superintendent with board approval.

Earwood reported that the Careers and Technical Education building at Socorro High School is all but completed, pending a stucco job. He is tentatively planning a grand opening ceremony for employees and board members at the end of staff orientation on Monday, Aug. 6. Earwood will finalize his plans and present them for board approval at an upcoming meeting.

A New Mexico Department of Transportation project was approved to improve the parking lot at Parkview Elementary School. The project will cost $19,497, of which the board will contribute 25 percent, or $4,874.25. Parts of the board’s contribution will include staffing and other resources, as well as in-kind and cash contributions.

There was a presentation by Music Boosters, a group of local persons seeking to provide moral, financial and logistical support for music classes and programs in Socorro. They will meet at the Socorro High School gym on Thursday, Aug. 9. For more information, contact Dr. Eileen Comstock.