North Branch Area Public Schools got a surprise this fall, when enrollment failed to drop as much as projected; as much as in previous years. The relatively flat enrollment we are enjoying compared to last year means we will receive unanticipated per pupil funds from the state.
All told, the school district received an additional $350,000 over projections, and has put together a thoughtful plan that addresses both the need for additional support in our schools this year and the need to prepare for more lean years yet to come.
The school board has approved a plan to spend $200,000 this year, and save $150,000 to help offset any deficit in 2013-14.
To determine areas of need, and the best ways to fill those needs efficiently, I went right to the source: principals and program directors. I asked them how best to fill their needs and what I was told became the plan.
So, what is the plan?
The Sunrise River School requested $50,000 for a half-time support teacher to assist grades two, three, and four, and a paraprofessional to help with Kindergarten.
Testing continues to expand and our secondary schools asked for $70,000 for two secretarial positions to support counselors, who are largely responsible for testing. One position will be at the middle school; the other at the high school.
We also know that math interventions are a need at the secondary level. With that in mind, the high school asked for $50,000 to provide targeted professional development to math teachers we believe will directly impact math scores.
Lastly was a request for $30,000 toward devices for students in need of interventions. Devices will be loaded with applications to be used by support teachers and dedicated to skill building.
Of the $200,000 total, $80,000 is one-time funds that will not contribute to future deficits.
In this way we were able to provide the support our schools and programs need, while still being mindful of hard times to come.