The Wilson County Schools Board of Education approved a proposal Thursday that saves the adult high school and GED program.

Initially, the program was budgeted at just under $1.1 million, and the board had asked Wilson County to pay for it. However, last week the county’s budget and education committees rejected that request and sent it back to the board.

Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall told the board Thursday that thanks to the retirement of several people involved in the program, the district will be able to save some personnel expense. That combined with putting adult education under the direction of the Barry Tatum Academy brought the cost down to $764,000.

Hall said an adjustment to the amount budgeted for retirements this fiscal year roughly equals that $764,000, and will be used to pay for the adult education program in fiscal year 2020-21.

“We had 4.5 people retire out of those two programs,” Hall said, adding that the district was able to “reconfigure the programs and still meet the needs.”

Among those retiring is the adult high school’s principal, Mary Ashby.

“I’ve given 42 years to this system and for the last eight I’ve given my heart to this school,” Ashby said Friday. “I’m glad my retirement helped saved the school.”

Also retiring from the high school are Ed Johnson and Joy Shaw. The other positions are from the GED, or HiSET program.

Director of Schools Donna Wright said, “We certainly did not encourage those retirements.”

Board members unanimously approved the plan, but not before raising concerns about the budget as a whole. The budget uses money from the district’s fund balance, its insurance reserve fund, and puts off millions in textbook purchases.

Board member Chad Karl pointed out that the district will be looking at a $16.5 million deficit to make up in the fiscal year 2021-22 budget.

“We’re tracking a fine line here and I hope everybody understands that,” board Chairman Larry Tomlinson said.

The budget was scheduled to the county commission’s budget committee on Monday.

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