GREENCASTLE -- Tough financial times are leading to some tough decisions for the Greencastle Community School Corporation.
At Wednesday's meeting of the school board, Superintendent Dr. Robert Green reported the size of this year's first grade class might necessitate hiring an additional teacher. While Green might normally move ahead with hiring the teacher, he is concerned with the economics of adding another staff member.
"The budget problem is putting a spotlight on this. We're making decisions based on dollars, not on kids, but I have to watch the dollars," Green said.
At this time, there will likely be 24 students in each section of first grade. While the administration wants to lower that number, Green does not want to hire an additional teacher, which comes at an expense of $50,000, including benefits, if it is unnecessary.
While board members shared his concerns, one in particular also expressed his wishes to see the students served properly.
"I think our first role is to educate kids, and I know from talking to parents of that class that the situation was not ideal last year," said board member Kelly Lewis.
After discussion, the board granted Green permission to hire another instructor if necessary. However, the need may also be filled with two teacher's aides if possible.
The decision will be made based on the number of kids who are actually present on the first day of school Tuesday.
One other concern in this matter is the possibility of adding a section of the class is moving kids from one school to the other. Because the first grade problem exists at both Deer Meadow and Ridpath, some students would likely have to change schools if a new section was added.
"There would probably have to be some juggling across districts," said Assistant Superintendent Dawn Puckett.
While all agreed this situation isn't ideal, there seem to be no other options.
As in most months of late, Green said the financial report contained good news and bad news.
While the corporation still owes money on temporary loans for the debt service, capital projects and transportation funds, all loans will be paid down as tax monies are received. All are due to be paid off by Dec. 31.
"We're kind of hopeful that we might see our June tax draw by the end of September, and maybe we can pay those off," Green said.
GMS Principal and School Safety Specialist Shawn Gobert was questioned on the school's preparedness for H1N1 flu this fall. He said school nurses are scheduled to meet with the health department on Friday. After that, Gobert, Green and the nurses will meet to determine a plan for the year.
"I want to make sure we're all on the same page as to whose role would be what. We want to make sure we're as prepared as we can be for anything that comes," Gobert said.
He also said the health department should have enough immunizations available for all students and school staff members in the county. These would be voluntary.
Regarding the transfer policy discussed in recent months, the board voted to charge $100 per semester tuition for out-of-district students who enroll prior to count day.
The board passed 27 personnel items, which included the hirings of Kellie Weller as athletic trainer, Camie Hopper as second grade teacher at Deer Meadow, Susan Gillen as elementary Title I/reading recovery teacher at Deer Meadow, Jennifer Schlatter as temporary Title I teacher at Deer Meadow, Denise Davies and Kari Schimpf as temporary teachers to fill maternity leaves and David Roberts as part time gratis instructor of Chemistry II at GHS.
The board also approved the resignation of Trish Lowe as GHS volleyball coach, effective at the end of the 2009-10 school year.