An estimated $1 million in new payroll expenses will be added to Tahlequah Public Schools in the coming school year, Superintendent Dr. Shannon Goodsell announced Monday evening.
Goodsell said the new jobs will include an entirely new crew of support staff for Heritage Elementary, such as cafeteria workers, custodians, grounds employees, receptionists, and a nurse.
TPS is also adding several elementary teachers, two elementary parent liaisons, five high school teachers and coaches, a middle school reading specialist, a Gifted and Talented teacher, one high school counselor, an elementary secretary, and an elementary librarian assistant.
“While other school districts are laying off teachers and eliminating programs, Tahlequah is expanding,” Goodsell told those attending Monday night’s monthly board meeting.
Goodsell also reminded board members the district will be opening its new elementary school, and new cafeterias for Greenwood Elementary and the high school.
“In addition to these accomplishments, we have been able to provide a step increase for our staff this school year and an additional $500-per-person bonus in May,” said Goodsell. “We are also set to provide pay raises for our staff members for the upcoming 2012-’13 school year.”
School board members Monday also approved a per-meal increase of 25 cents beginning next school year. Earlier this year, TPS Child Nutrition Program Director Rhonnie Kerns warned new federal regulations would require the increase. Kerns said districts wouldn’t initially be forced to make all of the changes at once, but must begin raising the per-meal price by at least 10 cents per meal each year beginning in the coming school year.
At some point, districts will be required to meet the federal average cost, and Kerns said making a 25-cent increase next year will help the district avoid major hikes in the future. Kerns said the district will also likely avoid the need to approve another increase the following school year.
“They are allowing us to go slowly, but slowly, in the end, could hurt more than raising it by a quarter, because if in the end we have to go up a dollar at once, our parents will suffer dramatically across the district,” Kerns told board members during a previous meeting. “The goal for me would be to not burden our parents with a dollar raise in a meal price, which will happen eventually, if we don’t begin to slowly move it up.”
New school start-stop times were also approved Monday night. Tahlequah High School will run from 8 a.m. to 3:10 p.m., with an “encore” period from 8-8:25 a.m. for students who are failing or falling behind in coursework. The first-period class will begin at 8:30 a.m., with “zero-hour” classes from 7-7:55 a.m.
Tahlequah Middle School sites, the pre-kindergarten center, and all elementary sites will run from 8:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. The proposal says the Boys & Girls Club has workers available at the elementary sites at 7 a.m. for supervision.
Bus routes will be consolidated as well, with students from all sites riding buses together, rather than separating elementary students from secondary students.
Goodsell said using school transportation is a privilege, not a right, and students’ privileges can be revoked for poor behavior.
Goodsell said all the district’s changes, including rezoning and consolidation of bus routes, could require slight changes to the proposed times once school begins.
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