PERRY — The Houston County Board of Education unanimously approved a $261 million tentative budget at its meeting Tuesday.
The budget includes about $16 million in cuts previously approved at the board’s April and May meetings, said assistant superintendent for finance and business operations Stephen Thublin at the board’s Monday work session.
It also includes 20 new positions that were not included on last year’s payrolls, 13 of which will be based at Veterans High School, such as principal Lionel Brown. Five bus drivers were also hired to transport students as they are grandfathered into new school zones that take effect in the upcoming school year, Thublin said.
Following approval, the tentative budget will be publicly advertised for two weeks in the county’s legal organ, the Houston Home Journal.
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The board will hold a called meeting June 25 at noon at its central office in Perry to approve the final budget.
Thublin also provided a midterm update of the system’s SPLOST collections, which began in 2007. To cover existing expenditures, the system will need to collect about $42 million in the remaining two years.
While it remains to be seen whether that goal will be met, Thublin said, the current figures show stronger revenues over his last SPLOST update in November.
At that time, Houston County would have needed to see a continuous 4.8 percent growth in collections to meet that goal. Now, Houston County will only need to sustain a 1.2 percent growth in collections at the current rate.
“It looks much better behind last year’s receipts,” Thublin said. “We’re much closer than we thought we’d ever be.”
In other business, the board unanimously approved Linda Horne to take over as the system’s assistant superintendent for school operations. The position was previously held by Superintendent Robin Hines. Horne currently serves as the executive director for elementary operations.
Horne takes on her new role as two others, James Kinchen and Ed Dyson, will not return as executive director for school operations and executive director for secondary operations, respectively, for the upcoming school year.
Both men were among a group of part-time retired staff members known as “49 percenters.”
State law allows for retired educators who are members of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia to work in a Georgia school system for no more than 49 percent of the full-time job compensation to continue to receive retirement benefits.
In May, the board decided only to renew the contracts of certified part-time retired employees with multiple skill sets working in the schools — those with additional certifications or who sponsor extracurricular activities, affecting those who worked in the central office.
Several board members thanked the outgoing “49 percenters” for their experience in the school system.
“Not only have you given your life before retiring, you have given so much invaluable wealth and knowledge during the 49 percent period. ... We have a better school system because of your leadership,” said board member Fred Wilson.
In his first meeting as Superintendent, Hines commended Dyson and Kinchen.
“We appreciate you so much,” Hines said. “You’ve given so much. ... We can never be grateful enough.”
Two others in the central office were also acknowledged for their work at the board meeting: Frankie Ross, coordinator of the pre-K and after-school program; and Dave Crockett, coordinator of fine arts, health and physical education. The positions will be combined into a new role, the director of special programs, following unanimous board approval for the new position’s job description.
The school board also approved several new hires in other leadership positions.
n Cassie Rape, a gifted teacher at Warner Robins High School, will become the coordinator of mathematics for grades 6-12.
n Willis Jones, assistant principal for Kings Chapel Elementary and Perry Primary schools, will become the principal at Bonaire Elementary School.
n Mary Smith, a teacher for Centerville Elementary School, will become school counselor.
n Curt Clements, achievement specialist at Northside Middle School, will become counselor at Houston County High School.
n Randy Mizell, gifted teacher at Perry Middle School, will become the school’s athletic director.
n Kristine Thornburg will become the system’s Youth Apprenticeship Facilitator. Thornburg was formerly a media clerk at Centerville Elementary before her position was affected by reduction in force cuts.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.