(Posted April 18, 2018)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
They spoke and the Madison-Plains school board listened.
More than a dozen people—students and staff—attended the April 17 school board meeting to protest the district’s budget reduction plan. The plan calls for the elimination of staff positions as one way to save money for the financially strained district.
Student Ashley Wethington spoke in support of art teacher, Rob Carroll, whose job is one of those that would be cut.
“He cares about his students,” she said. “He’s always there wanting to know, ‘What can I do to help?’ ”
At the end of her allotted three minutes, Wethington turned to the standing room only audience of an estimated 70 people and said: “Vote for the levy so no one gets laid off.”
Madison-Plains in on the May primary election ballot with a request for a 1.25 percent income tax levy that, if passed, would ward off a projected deficit.
Carroll himself said that eliminating his position would leave only one art teacher and that would be at the high school level.
“Art is valued in many areas,” said the first-year teacher.
“At the end of the day at Madison-Plains, I know I made a difference,” he continued. “Please don’t take art away from the kids.”
Math teacher Stormy Hiram, who is also president of the Madison-Plains Education Association, asked the board to sit down with members of the teachers’ union to discuss the budget reduction plan.
“We’re both working toward a common goal of what is the best of everything for our students,” Hiram said.
Aranne Moody, a fourth-grade teacher, choked up as she spoke of her pride in the academic progress the school has made.
“Our teachers provide the students with the skills the students need,” she said. “Continue to keep top-notch teachers who are hard-working and dedicated.”
Teams from nearly all the elementary grades spoke in favor of keeping the specialists, especially the reading specialists at the lower level who have been instrumental in helping more students meet and exceed requirements in the third-grade reading tests.
Every speaker received a round of applause from both the audience and board members. After the public comment section, the board went into executive session to consider personnel matters, negotiations with public employees, and matters required to be kept confidential by federal law or rules or state statutes.
Forty-five minutes later, board members returned to open session with board President Mark Mason thanking those who spoke and announcing a reprieve on the budget reduction plan.
“We are not going to vote on the budget reduction plan tonight,” he said.
Two staff members spoke of their efforts at saving the district money. Brian Garrett, head of maintenance, told of how his department inventoried equipment and learned how to use it, thus saving the district thousands of dollars a year.
Mary Sparrow said her food service staff works to provide healthy and nutritious meals for students and keep the department self-supporting.
The board’s next regular meeting is May 16.