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Schools face tough questions

By Kimberly Jordan kjordan@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jan 16, 2014 at 11:47 PM

A budget amendment requested during the county Education Committee meeting Thursday resulted in harsh words.

Deputy Director of Finance Mickey Hall asked for a budget amendment to move money around to accommodate the newly created deputy director positions. Commissioner Jeff Joines had several questions regarding the request. His first concern was approving funds of almost $250,000 for two positions at the Central Office while “we can’t help the people making minimum wage.”

“That’s not a good way to do business,” said Joines. “There’s no way I can vote for that.”

Commissioner Chad Barnard and Committee Chair Annette Stafford both said “we’ve got to [approve it]” because the funds were already in the school system budget. Hall said the funds would come from an abolished position and a teaching position that has not been hired.

Joines asked County Attorney Mike Jennings what would happen if the committee did not vote for the amendment.

“You might have an audit finding,” Jennings said.

Hall explained that the school system has abolished “roughly 20 CTE positions to cover other teaching needs. The money is there. You’re not spending any extra, it’s just being moved from a different portion of the budget.”

Ultimately, the amendment failed, with Only Barnard and Becky Siever voting in favor.

At the end of the budget committee meeting, Commissioner Mike Justice had a question not related to the budget request for Director of Schools Tim Setterlund: Had he taken his county-issued vehicle to a local establishment and had a beer while there?

Setterlund said yes.

Another request Hall brought before the board was more well-received.

“We have $500,000 left over from the Rutland, West [Elementary] and West Wilson [Middle School] projects,” he said. “We’d like to have your blessing to use that money to do a design plan at Carroll-Oakland.

Stafford said she was glad to see the school board moving forward with improvements at the school. The request passed the committee unanimously.

A resolution asking the local legislators to sponsor legislation allowing for a two-member increase of the county Board of Education was presented as well.

Stafford asked the committee to approve sending this resolution to the legislature.

“By the outcry of the public, I think it is time to get the ball rolling on this. We need to send a private act to the legislature,” Stafford said. She said if passed by the legislature, it would allow for a referendum on the August ballot.

“We would put a referendum on the ballot asking the voters if they support adding two school board members,” she noted.

The committee members voted in favor of asking the representatives for Wilson County to bring the resolution into the current session.

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