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BOE discusses preschool funding

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Chilton County Board of Education discussed the possibility of needing additional funding to keep the current number of Alabama First Class Pre-K classrooms in Chilton County next school year during the Jan. 21 meeting.

Superintendent Jason Griffin said preschool directors at each of the schools has been asked to submit information to the Chief School Finance Officer for how much the program would cost for the next school year.

“We asked them that day to bring an estimate of how much they would be over the money that they have,” Ashlie Harrison of the Department of Teaching and Learning said. “We also asked them that if they have federal funding available to use that.”

Griffin said he had received a call from the Department of Early Childhood saying the Chilton County Schools preschool was “a model for the state” and asking that they be informed if additional funding was needed. A similar offer to look at other state funds that might be available for Chilton County preschool classes was made by someone with the Governor’s Office.

“Apparently, we are doing an excellent job,” Griffin said. “They used the word model a couple different times. My intention is to have a pre-K classroom in every (elementary or K-12) school in the county.”

Right now, most schools have at least two Alabama First Class Pre-K classrooms. Application will be made to the state to receive funding for each of the classes.

At this point, the plan is to find a way to keep all of them. If local funding is needed to fill a funding gap, it would be presented to the Board for a vote at a later meeting.

Each classroom is initially funded through a grant from the state.

In an interview after the meeting, Griffin explained that the state funding for preschool classrooms pays a set amount for a basic teacher and aide, but some of the teachers have more experience putting them in a higher pay grade than what the state fully funds.

Griffin said he would have information to the board on the amount of local revenue funds that may be needed when he has the information.

“We have been doing pre-k in our county for 15 years, so we have some teachers that have years of experience,” Griffin said.

Any changes that would need to be made as far as number of classrooms would be known before the drawing date on March 20.

During the finance report, board member Pam Price asked about items over budget reported in September. Chief School Financial Officer Melynda Buck said most of this was in payroll, but she could present a complete breakdown to the Board.

Also during the meeting, the Board approved:

  • Three resignations, including Child Nutrition worker Florentina Brannon, Jemison Middle teacher Marjorie Littleton and Buck. Buck’s resignation will be effective April 15.
  • Hiring a teacher for Clanton Intermediate, a teacher for Jemison Intermediate and a special education teacher from Chilton County High School. Five leave requests were approved.
  • Allowing students to travel to the HOSA state leadership conference.
  • Allowing students to travel from Chilton County High School to travel to an out-of-state cheer camp.
  • A CCHS assistant varsity baseball coach, three baseball volunteers for Thorsby and a supplement for Maplesville High School Softball.

The next meeting of the Chilton County Board of Education is planned for Feb. 18 at Thorsby High School. The work session, which is when most of the discussion takes place, will begin at 5 p.m. The voting session will begin at 6 p.m. Both meetings are open to the public.