Tuesday night’s meeting of the Fairfield County School Board contained contentious moments as board members heard proposals for dual capacity bus driver compensation and voted about curriculum changes at Fairfield Middle School.
Dual capacity bus driver compensation and how to fund overtime pay was a major point of contention on the board.
Superintendent J.R. Green, transportation manager Daniel Miller and a group of dual capacity bus drivers met and worked out a compromise that would reduce the amount of overtime that subgroup of employees earned and lessened its impact upon the school district budget.
When that compromise was presented, board member Beth Reid made a motion to accept but that motion was countered by board member Bobby Cunningham. He made a motion to allow all dual capacity bus drivers to have their positions remain in tact.
Any overtime that they incurred while performing their duties that requires funds outside of those budgeted for bus driver salary would come from the district’s fund balance under Board Chairwoman Andrea Cunningham’s motion.
The motion carried 4-3 but the motion included an option for the board to revisit that action once figures for overtime projections could be provided for the dual capacity bus drivers.
“From a taxpayer standpoint, we don’t know the salaries of each driver and the amount the added expenditure would be. So that puts taxpayer money up in the air,” Harrison said.
According to Kevin Robinson finance director with the school district thefund balance represents the cumulative residual of any revenues in any excess of any expenditures.
The districts use fund balance for a variety of things. Unforseen circumstances can be paid using the fund balance but there are no real restrictions about paying salaries or purchasing equipment from the balance.
The fund balance from June 2011 was $4.9 million.
Another area that met resistance was the proposal to offer an elective Latin course at Fairfield Middle School.
Green had been working with Principal LeeVette Malloy in a discussion of the benefits of this pilot program. His reasoning for including what some deem a dead language is that Latin forms the root of many words in the English language and that teaching Latin in middle school would help improve students’ vocabulary.
Improved vocabulary skills are cited as one way for increasing standardized test scores especially SAT scores. The majority of the board saw the benefit in the program according to Harrison.
“This (Latin course) is a positive step and anything positive is good for us,” said Harrison.
The board also heard presentations from four architectural firms who seek a contract for building the district’s new comprehensive high school.
Harrison said that the board members would take time to compile new information for their Aug. 21 meeting.
She said members may even take tours some of the buildings the four companies had constructed in order to gauge which group would be the best fit for Fairfield County.
Though at least one firm presented a plan for a Career and Technology Center, the board was only interested in plans for the comprehensive high school it had approved.
Board members also went into executive session to receive legal advice pertaining to the lawsuit between the Fairfield County School District and Chester County School District.
No action was taken during executive session and Harrison said there likely will need to be another specially called meeting for the board to take action with regard to that case.