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School district approves new year budget

Financial matters took center stage during Tuesday night’s Brookhaven School Board meeting as trustees approved a budget for the new year, opted to purchase a new telephone system and adjusted daycare fees at Mamie Martin.

      The school district expects to spend about $28 million next year, which includes salaries, maintenance and general operations.

     “As tight as the budget is, I’m excited about it,” said Superintendent Dr. Lisa Karmacharya.

     Changes in the new year’s budget include a new health teacher at Alexander Junior High, who will begin teaching the abstinence-only sex education required by a new state law. To save money, classes at the Career Technical Center that are not productive will be dropped, and some personnel moves and salary adjustments were made.

     “Savings in one area allowed us to reallocate resources in another,” said Karmacharya during a hearing on the budget last week.

     Other items on the agenda Tuesday night were approval of a telephone system renovation at a cost of $175,000.

     The money will come from the district’s 16th Section interest fund. Plans are to replace the entire district’s telephone systems, including lines and equipment.

     “Our current system is fairly antiquated, about 15 year old. Our lines keep going out,” Karmacharya said. “This has been on the agenda for several years. It just keeps getting pushed back because the budget is tight.”

     Other purchases included a new school bus at $82,500, a $73,000 bid for an aluminum awning project at the high school, $29,900 for a Benchmarks Data Bank and Test Maker and $27,141 for a DIBELS Screener.

     Another item voted on was a change in the daycare cost at Mamie Martin.

     An initial increase of $150 a month was approved in February, which upset many parents. Because of the outcry, the board reconsidered the costs and dropped the per month cost back to $300 a month, but kept registration costs at the new price of $50.

     “We really take seriously [parents] concerns about it,” said Karmacharya. “We’re just trying to break even.”

     The board also approved salary schedules for instructional and support staff but not administrators. Board member Willie Harrison had to recuse himself from the administrative schedule vote due to his daughter was recently named the new principal at Brookhaven Elementary School.

     There were only three members present at Tuesday’s meeting, and without Harrison, there wasn’t a quorum on that vote. Board President Karen Braden and member Dan Brown were absent last night.

     The administrative salary issue will be revisited at the board’s next meeting on July 26.

     Other changes voted on include new consolidated handbooks, one for K-6 and one for 7-12.

     The handbooks were approved pending the addition of board policies. They also voted to change the Internet policy to coincide with updates from the Children’s Internet Protection Act, including education about online usage and bullying awareness training.

     The board also approved 10 student transfer requests, one readmission request, the child nutrition procurement plan, fundraisers for the cross country booster club, changes to the fixed assets inventory and the May 2012 financial report.

     The next meeting on July 26 was approved, as well as the board retreat date of July 27 at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.