Much has been made of the Bald Knob School District’s 11th-hour efforts to bail itself out of dire financial straits, but at least one state Board of Education member is unhappy with some of the details: specifically, that half a dozen academic positions were cut this year to save money, while there were apparently no cuts made to athletic programs.
The board will get an update on the district’s situation at its meeting Monday, and while it’s too late to make any changes, board member Ben Mays — a crusader for truth in athletic spending reports even before he got on the board — said he plans to express his unhappiness anyway. The district got in financial trouble in part because of a $6 million high school building project that included a new gymnasium. According to the update that will be presented Monday, district officials are expecting a deficit of close to half a million dollars for the current school year.
“To get themselves out of this mess they’re cutting back on academic programs,” Mays said.
Local school district officials came up with the list of cuts, but the department of education had to approve the plan before it went to the state board. District officials told the state board in June that they would be cutting a certain number of positions, but didn’t give specifics, Mays said. The state took over the district in August, disbanding the school board and appointing a new interim superintendent. The eliminated positions — 13.5 in all — include a band director, an elementary teacher, a high school math teacher and an academic coach.
— Jennifer Barnett Reed