Dothan City Schools boast better budget with consolidation process

Dothan school board members address cell phone policy

DOTHAN, Ala. (WSFA) - Dothan City Schools System continues to iron out final policies and budget items for the upcoming school year.

During Thursday’s school board work session, Chief Finance Officer Mike Manuel told board members he felt the system was in a really good place. They have more money in the bank because of consolidations and they’re moving in a direction to continue to save.

He laid out the numbers for the 2019 - 2020 annual budget and school board members agreed they were numbers they were excited to see.

“I really commend Dr. Edwards for her vision on that. To help us be the best possible stewards of what we’re receiving and being accountable for the money we have coming in," Susan Vierkandt, District 3.

According to Manuel, by next month the system will have $6.4 million in savings, the first time in five years because of consolidation work. And that’s only the beginning.

“By September 2019 we will have 9 million and we project if the budget is followed and our projections are good then we hope by the end of September 2020 then we will have about 11.6 million,” said Mike Manuel, Chief Finance Officer.

The system is already reaping the benefits of consolidations. They’ve been able to add new positions like - athletic director, assistant principals, and counselors. School leaders say they’re meeting their goals - saving money to do more for students. They’re in a better position to ask for the community to up the bare minimum 10 millage rate.

We’re aiming high. Then we need to really think about as a community - what’s the standard that we think out students deserve - that we need to put our money where our mouth is,” said Vierkandt.

During the work session, school board members also reviewed a new cell phone policy for students. The new drafts to weigh include some language change. Students won’t be able to use devices during school hours, but they can use devices during school events like football or basketball games.

School board members are also weighing consequences for having devices at school.

In one option, unauthorized use of a device will result in the device confiscated by school administration. Parents must retrieve the device. Violation of the policy for a second time will result in the device taken and five days of out of school suspension. Subsequent violations will result in confiscation along with 30 days at P.A.S.S Academy. Refusal to surrender the device will result in 90 days at P.A.S.S Academy.

In the second option, unauthorized use of the device will result in the device confiscated by school administration. Parents must retrieve the device. Violation of the policy for a second time will result in two days of out of school suspension. The third violation will result in five days of out of school suspension. The fourth violation will result in 30 days at P.A.S.S. Academy. Subsequent violations will result in 90 days at P.A.S.S. Academy.

The school system has another public hearing on the budget Monday and they’re expected to vote on the budget at that meeting as well.

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