In the state of Tennessee, $4.6 billion dollars are budgeted each year for education. And $220 million is for discretionary spending. The Governor asked Dr. Webb, to initially cut 3%. A week later, that amount jumped to 10%, then 15%, and now 20%.
What does a 20% cut mean for Claiborne County Schools?
The Career Ladder Money will be reduced, along with Extended Contract Money, which affects: Summer Schools, At-risk Students, and Academically Challenged Students. The Early Intervention Program is being reviewed, as well.
In addition, possibly $1.5 million will be reduced for Internet activity. All schools now have Internet, and for the first time, Claiborne County has implemented a countywide program, run off of one server, called Destination Math. There are also a total of thirty-five classes, currently online.
Public television and the CEO Supplement will be eliminated. And in possibly another year, the Health Programs may be removed. With Tennessee being one of the leading in states (number 3) in obesity, the health program is crucial. Research reveals, children who exercise and are involved in activities, perform better on tests.
Safe School Funding, and the Family Resource Funds will take a direct cut. And the BET Program could possibly be reduced by $500,000 dollars.
The Claiborne County Board of Education is aware of the budget crisis. They have agreed the Instructional Programs will be the last thing affected. Already three bus routes are being considered for consolidation. The Central Office will be evaluated, and applicable cuts enforced. Employees at retirement age will be urged to retire.
Shoffner is disappointed, but positive. He will continue to utilize the funds available and take advantage of every opportunity.
When asked if he thought a tax increase would be enforced he replied, “The Claiborne County Board of Education is not in favor of a tax increase. Families are already absorbing as much as they can, do to higher electric bills, gas prices, and the unemployment problem.”
Shoffner also addressed the previous letter to the editor, ‘Opposition to on-line education for county students’.
In the previous article a memo was mentioned, sent to high school principals and counselors from Shoffner. While the memo was accurate, it originated from Shoffner’s Supervisor.
First of all, Continental Academy (headquartered in Florida) is not encouraged because a student cannot be controlled, nor as a means to get rid of a student. It is used occasionally, with discretion, to high school juniors and seniors who lack many credits to graduate. It has accreditation beyond a GED. And this alternative is used only in the effort to help Challenged Students get the best education possible for them. Circumstances sometimes arise above the norm and instead of allowing the student to fail, every effort is put forth to help them succeed. The Tennessee Legislators authorized this Academy without any control or veto power from the local school systems.
Gateway exams in high school will soon be replaced with end-of-course exams. Twenty-five percent of the grade to graduate will be placed on the end-of-course exams, which includes the ACT’s College and Readiness Test. The State of Tennessee, Governor, and Department of Education has approved the Continental Academy and it would take more than the Claiborne County Board of Education to change the decision.
In fact, Claiborne County is looking into the possibility of a Virtual High School. The estimated twenty students referred out of state would be enrolled. State funding would still be available for those students. The board has been working on this possibility for over a year now.
Rest assured, the Claiborne County School System is doing everything possible to get State Funds. County Supervisor, Jackie Minton does an outstanding job, according to Dr. Shoffner. No students are just allowed to drop out of school. Judge Estep works with the school system to improve truancy and tardiness, by holding parents and students accountable. Also, an Academy for freshman was established to help them get off to the right start. A computer based reading program called, Read Naturally, was implemented at Claiborne County High School. Smart boards have been added to help students visualize, and In-services for teachers (to help make classes more interesting) are completed. Already, the dropout rate has improved. Dr. Shoffner is very proud of the professionals that make it all possible. And there is no school in the county on the ‘No Child Left Behind’ list.
Parents play a crucial role in their child’s education. While educators teach the required curriculum, parents have to be supportive, encouraging, and dedicated to their child’s education. Teachers cannot do everything without parent help. But they can be partners with their child’s teacher to ensure they get the best education.
“We know our job is to do everything humanly possible to educate each child. I’d like to say we can do 100% of that, but we can’t. One of my daughters needed extra preparation for college. I had to provide tutorial services for her. The parents have to join in a partnership with us. And the Claiborne County Educational Team wants to be a partner! I want parents to talk to the teachers, principals, and our staff. We must have cooperation with the parents and work as a team in order to succeed,” Dr. Shoffner stated.
Another effort to open communication lines with parents is the, Electronic Learning System. It is a current project, in progress, for parents and students. When completed it will be a valuable resource. It will provide the curriculum, standards, tutorials, and homework assignments for each student in Claiborne County.