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County schools to get help from UWA

LINDEN-Marengo County Schools are getting some much needed help from friends all over the Black Belt. County School Superintendent Luke Hallmark said Thursday the University of West Alabama had reached a helping hand out to county schools to aid in a variety of improvements.

“Some people from West Alabama called me and asked if any of the four schools here could use a new copier,” Hallmark said. “They asked which school may need one the worst and I told them it would probably be John Essex at this time because they have the smallest number of teacher units and you use so much of your money to pay to run a copier and they really don’t have enough to run a copier.”

One UWA professor also offered to help in grant applications. Hallmark said the two plan to work together to secure funding for a graduation exam tutorial.

“I had a meeting with Dr. Michael Cook at the University of West Alabama and he is interested in helping us write a grant,” Hallmark said. “My interest right now is making sure all of our students pass their graduation exam. I would like to see us set up some kind of after school tutorial so we can find a way for our kids to stay after school and receive some kind of transportation home. There is grant money out there and he said he would be happy to help us out.”

Help is also coming from within the county. Hallmark said an anonymous source had donated items vital to schools operations.

“I also received a call from someone in Demopolis and we were given a whole lot of paper products,” Hallmark said. “It took the maintenance people pretty much a whole day to clean out the storage shed that included copiers, new furniture, pallets and pallets of paper, pencils and all kinds of office and school equipment. We moved it all out of storage and we are going to distribute them out to the schools to use.”

The board later looked at the budget and discussed ways to help out their employees. Hallmark said he would like to look at some of the supplements to salary’s for the county schools employees and possibly make adjustments.

“If we look at our budget and it looks good I would lie to look at our supplements and compare them to some of the other school systems around here like us and see if we are comparable to what they have as far as offering supplements,” Hallmark said. “What I would like to do is take each individual supplement, whether it is coaching, administrative or any others and look to see how they compare.”

Hallmark said he would like to see the supplements increase for some employees if the funding is available.

“If you take a coach that has a $500 supplement and you add six percent that is only $30,” Hallmark said. “What I would like to do is go talk to other schools and see if instead of paying them $500 we could pay them $600. I want to look at moving in that direction as far as making sure that money is available.”

A yes or no answer to the supplements can’t be given until the budget for 2006 is in place. This will be done in August. Hallmark said there were some supplements he would like to raise and some that should remain the same.

“There are some supplements that need to be raised and others that I don’t think need to be raised,” Hallmark said. “That is why if we do six percent for all of them there will be some that I think we need to hold back on being raised.”

Another addition the board discussed to county schools was a band director. Currently, Sweet Water is the only school with a band director and the board would like to see more music programs in county schools. Hallmark said he had looked into a plan to include a band director for A.L. Johnson and Marengo County High School.

“The ideal situation would be to hire a fulltime band person to go to A.L. Johnson in the morning and then drive down to Dixon Mills in the afternoon and do band at both schools,” Hallmark said. “I talked to a Superintendent from Marion County and this is the way they do it. When he goes to one school in the afternoon he stays there and has band practice after school. The next year he swaps it up and goes to the other school in the afternoon.”

The board plans to continue to look into a possible solution.