Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jacqueline Brooks and the Macon County Board of Education (MCBOE) are looking at options to reduce overhead and increase funding.
There are several reasons for the concern. One of the main ones is the reduction in funds generated for Macon County and the MCBOE from VictoryLand that has only a small percentage of employees and business it once had after efforts by the State to shut down what was once the largest employer in the county.
The school district is dealing with having to renew an expiring 10 mil tax that goes off in 2019 and adding additional millage to help offset a nearly $1 million shortfall resulting from the VictoryLand situation.
A reduction of about $900,000 in overhead has already been achieved. Some of that reduction came through attrition of 17 or 18 employees through retirements and shifting or combining positions.
One area the superintendent and board are looking at is reconfiguration of schools in order to reduce costs. A recent survey went out to teachers with the possibility of closing a school through reconfiguration.
However, Dr. Brooks found that the majority of responses on the survey were in favor of keeping all of the system’s six schools open with some shifting of class configuration at the schools.
Dr. Brooks emphasized that she is not making any decisions or recommendations at this point while looking at options.
One of those options involves the Central Office on School Street next to Tuskegee Public School. She said that closing or selling the Central Office could reduce overhead, but “we would have to have some where to go.”
There was some previous discussion about relocating the Central Office to some vacant areas at Tuskegee Institute Middle School. There are some challenges with the Central Office involving heating and air, the roof and pipes.
Dr. Brooks said the City of Tuskegee has discussed relocating the police department from the old armory on Highway 81 to a location closer to downtown. Former Mayor Johnny Ford suggested the Gomillion building for the department, but that would probably require far too much in renovation costs.
The Central Office could be an option for the police department — for several reasons. It is closer to the central business district than the present location, there is ample parking and a huge area for a compound lot that has razor wire already in place on fencing.
Located in the building are some vaults and bars like jail cells that could easily be adapted for a police department if purchased by the City.
Dr. Brooks also told the board at its Feb. 21 meeting that she is in the process of identifying school board property that has led to some interesting discoveries. Only 13 registered properties have been pinpointed with the search still on for deeds to many properties that are under different names, including the state from when the District was under financial intervention in the late 1990s.
The bottom line is that Dr. Brooks and the MCBOE are looking at many options to make sure funds currently available are being utilized wisely while looking for more revenue to provide the best eduction possible for the District’s students.
Guy Rhodes is editor and publisher of The Tuskegee News. He is a former recipient of the Distinguished Alabama Community Journalist Award and multi-time winner in the Alabama Press Association contest for Best Editorial Column or Commentary. He can be reached by email at email@example.com