New Lonoke School District Superintendent Merle Dickerson held nothing back during Monday night’s Lonoke School Board meeting, as he pulled back on the district’s financial reins.
While Dickerson said the district $5 million balance has the district in “pretty good” shape for the year, he believes the district should be sitting at, at least $6 million for the year.
“I’m not going to say it’s real good, because I think it needs to be bigger than that,” Dickerson said. “I think we are in a good place, but I there are better places to be, I’ll put it that way. “
Dickerson said the district is going to have to slow down on some of its spending and become more strict with how items are prioritized. He said while the district is looking overall well at this point, be said the finances are going to be very close to budget by the end of the year already.
”I think we are going to be in good shape, but we are going to be very close at the end of the school year, ” Dickerson said “It’s going to be close. I’m going to say we don’t have enough money to do all the things we want to do. Because we have so many people with so many ideas, we can’t do them all. “
“Do you have a number in mind, that makes you feel more comfortable,” Charles Hunter asked Dickerson.
“Yeah, another million,” Dickerson said. “And then another million. But, another million would be really good and it’s possible we can get there, we’re just going to have to look at what we are doing. “
“And since we have no growth in students, it’s going to be tough,” Angela Sumner said.
“It is, that’s right,” Dickerson said. ” But what we’re going to have to do is, to grow some money, we are going to have to put aside some of the things that we want to do. I think we can do that.”
Dickerson said the district is working with the department of education on the district’s finances. He said they have a representative come to the administration building four times a month to review the finances and will them hold a monthly conference with him to review the district’s current standing.
“That said, I think we are in a good place right now,” Dickerson said. “We just have to do what they say. Even though we will not want to do some of the things, we are going to have to do what they say. That’s just kind of where we are.”
In other business, parent Jenette Tremble spoke to the board regarding the dance team. She, along with team members and parents, requested that the dance team be allowed to travel to away games, and that the district give equal pay to keep the current dance coach Latonya Wesley. Tremble said the girls have worked hard to develop the team since it was formed last year and want to see the payoff of that hard work with a knowledgeable coach.
Wesley did request an stipend increase from the current $1,500 to $3,000 as received by the cheerleader sponsor, according to athletics director Marc Sherrell. He said the request was denied because of the difference in additional responsibilities of the cheerleader sponsor, such as the homecoming events, versus a new dance team sponsor with no additional responsibilities. Sherrell said he did suggest increasing the pay to $2,000 as received by other sponsors, but did not feel the suggestion was well received by Wesley. He also said the district spent $500 on camp fees, which should be included in the stipend.
“I don’t think anyone is trying to be unfair,” Sherrell said.
Sherrell said there no issue with dance team traveling to away football games, but that there may be some venues to small for the team to travel to during basketball season.
After some additional discussion, the board asked that Dickerson and Sherrell meet with Wesley to further discuss the stipend and if she plans to continue as coach.
Following executive session, the board reconvened and unanimously voted to hire Tracie Cole as chief financial officer, hire Tawny Johnson as Middle School teacher, transfer Deanie Sherrell to high school secretary and transfer Deneen Knowlton to superintendent administration assistant.
Also during the meeting, Dickerson said the primary school safe room is on schedule and due to be completed next month.
The next regular scheduled board meeting will be at 6 p.m. August 21 in the administration building.