Selma School Board seeks careful disbursement of at-risk money

Published 5:51 pm Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Selma City School Board wants more care in dispersing money to agencies that serve at-risk students.

A majority of the school board wants this year’s list to undergo closer scrutiny because of a federal investigation, which was prompted by a complaint from school board member Debra Reeves-Howard.

Howard has argued that some of the money is leaving Selma and going to outside agencies. She also has contended that some of the agencies have spent their allowances improperly.

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At-risk funds are used to help underachieving students through tutoring and counseling programs.

These agencies received at-risk funds in the 2007-08 fiscal year: Mcray Learning Center, Selma Christian Ministries, Neighborhood Academic Enrichment; Macedonia Community Development Corporation, C.H.A.S.M Family Resources, M-PAC, Inc., Dallas County Children’s Policy Council/Teen Court, Selma Disabilities Advocacy, B.A.T.E.S Alternative, Faith Christian Ministries, S.A.F.E., Inc.

Earlier this week at a school board work session, William Minor, at-risk funds coordinator for the school system, presented the at-risk funds applications to board members. He said he has no problem with revising the new list.

“We don’t need to be scrutinized again,” Minor said. “If there’s a problem, we can certainly go back to the drawing board. I have no objection.”

Minor and Dr. Verdell Lett Dawson, who sits on the at-risk funds selection committee, looked at several factors when considering organizations’ applications, including how many students the organization serves and its performance level.

However, Dawson and Minor only suggest who should receive at-risk funds. The final decision is left up to the school board.

Board member the Rev. Coley Chestnut said it is particularly crucial to closely review each organization.

“I think that we need to make sure we are clear and concise,” Chestnut said. “Then we won’t keep having these problems.”

Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan listened to the board’s opinions and told them, no matter what, they must follow the law.

“They’re concerned,” Obasohan said. “My position is that we must follow the guidelines.”