Dallas County School Board holds

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 31, 2006

first meeting of the new year

By Cassandra Mickens

The Selma Times-Journal

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Pay increases for Dallas County school cafeteria workers are out of the question if students don’t chow down.

“For us to increase salaries now is a tremendous burden,” said Child Nutrition Program Director Frances Cartagena. “We cannot afford any more expenses right now.”

Cartagena addressed the Dallas County School Board at its first meeting of the new year Monday night at Southside High School, saying she is doing everything she can to generate more income for CNP.

CNP receives funding based on the number of meals served each school day. Cartagena said there are currently three schools operating at a loss of $45,000 per year.

“We’re doing okay, but we can do better,” she said.

Cartagena said CNP is making roughly $210,000 a month from school meals, but has expenses amounting to $250,000.

Money is down because students are not buying meals, especially high schoolers. Cartagena said her aim is to encourage students to eat lunch. If the campaign goes as planned, CNP funds increase and workers may see a rise in their paychecks.

Following Cartagena’s presentation, Superintendent Fannie Major-McKenzie encouraged Dallas County citizens to renew two tax resolutions – a $3 million school district tax and an $8.5 million countywide tax, both up for re-election this year. The taxes generate over $1 million for the school system. Major-McKenzie said the taxes have been renewed every 25 to 30 years.

“It’s a renewal,” she said. “We’re not requesting any additional funds.”

School Budget and Business Manager Susan Taylor said the system depends on these funds for survival.

“Without either one of them, we couldn’t function,” she said. “That’ll sink our ship for sure.”

In other business:

Major-McKenzie gave her administrative report.

On Jan. 3, schools participated in a system-wide training session involving three areas – data driven decision-making, awareness training and school policy review. Major-McKenzie deemed the session a success.

All 13 Dallas County schools have applied for the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) through Wallace Community College Selma and Alabama State University. AMSTI was established to improve math and science teaching statewide.

“We’re waiting to hear their disposition,” Major-McKenzie said.

A “Blitz” program has been launched throughout the school system to assess teachers and their techniques while school is in session. Through the program “holes can be plugged in” thus improving student achievement, Major-McKenzie said.

The board approved two upcoming field trips. The Tipton Middle School Science Department will travel to Atlanta Ga. on May 2. Southside High has planned a senior trip to Orlando, Fla. May 4-7.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for

Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at Dallas County High School.