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 Martin County School Board

The board discussed next year’s budget.

This is probably the most important one function the board has. It is clear that a bureaucratic soul is needed to put all the pieces together. How Carter Morrison can prepare all the funding pieces is a wonder.

The budget person needs to take some dollars from Columns A, B, through Z to fund programs because of budgetary constraints which are nothing more than state directives. To see what state control can do to local control, look no further than school boards. The state tells them how much of both local and state school dollars can be spent on many things.

As of February 2024 (the last school census figures), the district had 19,120 students. That is 113 more than the previous census in October of 2023. However, that is the total number of students including scholarship and charters. The increase in Martin County’s traditional public schools climbed by only 25. The rest of the increase belongs to the other two types of students.

Morrison then proceeded to run through scenarios for different funding with different millage rates. The current millage for the referendum tax rate is .5 mills. He ran the scenarios for different rates starting at .4 going up to the maximum.

Here are some of the things that the millage would cover if approved. If the critical shortage supplement is kept for teachers at Indiantown Middle, the cost would be $200,000. A new state mandate for fingerprinting personnel on an ongoing basis could be as much as $221,000 this budget year.

The staff presented an option to the board about lock-proof pouches for student cell phones. The use of cell phones in the classroom not only for calls but for making videos and social media has become a problem. The pouches to eliminate the students access to their cell phones would be $218,000. While the board wants to do something about cell phones, they didn’t think the daily confiscation route was the best option. The money should stay in the budget for possible other solutions.

At a recent conference, the district discovered that it was leaving money on the table because certain students were eligible for Medicaid funding for their transportation. It would cost approximately $106,000 for a Medicaid manager for one year with a payback of over $624,000. Seems like a no brainer to me.

There were other initiatives such as the “Accelerator Reader” program in the total figure. One such item was to fully fund new science textbooks for all grades. The teaching material was already approved. It seems good sense to do it all at once.

The addendum millage that staff is recommending funding all the extras would be 0.425 mills, which is less than the current year. When they are asking taxpayers to re-authorize up to .5 mills of taxpayer money, it is nice to see that the district is appearing to be a good shepherd of our dollars.

You can see the presentation here 

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