After months of back and forth between Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman and members of the Board of Education, a hybrid version of intersession will be held throughout the district next week.
After the Fall intersession members of the board and community members raised concerns surrounding the cost efficiency of the week-long educational enrichment attempt, and board members requested a detailed cost analysis of the Fall intersession in order to better assess steps that could be taken to save the district money in the Spring.
The Fall intersession, held in mid-October and originally anticipated to be offered to all students district wide, was one of two weeks designated during the school year with the intention of providing enrichment activities and further promoting opportunities to increase test performance. The week was only attended by about 400 students on any given day, which amounted to about 10 percent of the entire district’s student population. Although the original intent was to offer the intersession to any student willing to attend, several schools throughout the district only offered the intersession to specific grades or targeted classrooms due to a shortage of teachers willing to participate in the week.
In December, board member Jim Breedlove raised concerns about the school system’s ability to sustain the intersession in the Spring due to high costs.
Dr. Brigman proposed that a hybrid version of the intersession be offered to targeted students who would benefit most from the week. Students in need of an opportunity to make up class time for absences, or who need the remediation services to boost their grades were encouraged to utilize the Spring intersession. Students were selected for the Spring intersession based on need and received an invitation to attend.
Of the students invited, 392 confirmed that they planned to attend the intersession. Each school in the district will have a form of the intersession designed by its respective principal. Each school site will utilize a cost efficient, specially implemented program in order to meet the needs of its students.
During December’s meeting, Angie Cook, Macon County School’s finance director, informed the board that the estimated cost of the Fall intersession was $108,612.
According to Cook, during the week of intersession only, $60,800 was spent on teacher/assistant salaries; $14,890 on Child Nutrition salaries; $4,668 on the VIP after school program; $14,606 was spent on bus drivers salaries; $12,521 was the estimated fuel cost; and $1,127 was spent for supplies and materials.
Although the Fall intersession was beneficial for the students who attended, the poor attendance resulted in high cost. At the request of Breedlove and board member Gary Shields, Dr. Brigman assured the board that he and the principals would work together to develop a revised version for the Spring intersession, which he assures will not cost more than $90,000.
According to Cook, the monies allocated in the budget for the Spring intersession will be split between “At Risk” and “Title 1” funds, with a little more than $50,000 and $38,500 designated from each pocket of money respectively. “The money allocated for the Spring intersession comes from funds generally designated for remediation services, and the Spring intersession will definitely offer those services,” said Cook. “There are still funds available in local, state and federal budgets in the event that something unexpected may occur before the end of the year.”
According to Brigman’s report to the board on Monday night, the district allocated a $90,000 budget for next week’s enrichment activities. One cost saving measure the school system has identified for next week is the bus schedule for students.
During the first week of intersession, all buses ran regardless of student attendance. Next week, only 20 (maybe less) buses are expected to run out of the 52 available.
Dr. Brigman also informed the board that although 392 students confirmed they would be attending the intersession, if less than anticipated actually go, the school’s principal could adjust the number of faculty members needed to accommodate the students in order to lower the costs.