Arlington school board to vote on spending for it strategic plan

Arlington school trustees will vote tonight on a revised budget figure for the first year of their much-anticipated 2012-2015 Strategic Plan.

The budget amendment will bring the project's personnel costs to $3,902,364, including $751,364 recurring costs for nine new positions and $3,151,000 in extra-duty and substitute costs for teachers to write new curriculum and participate in staff development activities.

"The difference is the timing," said Cindy Powell, associate superintendent of finance. Some parts of the first-year plan have been revised and now will occur in the second year. The first-year budget is being revised to reflect the change.

The school board meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the school administration building.

The money comes from a surplus in the district's general fund budget.

Trustees adopted the three-year Achieve Today, Excel Tomorrow Strategic Plan on August 2.

The budget amendment is characterized by officials as "a starting point."

The nine new permanent positions would include three area superintendents, a director of parent and community engagement, a student discipline specialist and an accountability and testing programmer, as well as three departmental secretaries.

A human resource consultant who will craft the compensation plan would be included in $1.6 million allocated for contracted services.

A vacant risk manager position will be repurposed to a budget specialist position at no additional cost.

The overall purpose of the Strategic Plan is to put a focus on educational excellence through innovative and rigorous learning experiences. District officials say it also maintains the district's commitment to efficiently utilize resources.

Administrators say 10 additional new positions will be presented for discussion as the plan is implemented.

These would include a director of curriculum development, compliance and delivery; director of planning and professional development; partnerships/volunteer specialist; director of facility planning and construction; personnel director; safety specialist; community and internal communications specialist; program senior evaluator, and two secretaries. Last year, the district slashed more than 500 administrative staff and teaching positions, though the district says the classroom cuts were achieved mainly by attrition and eliminating unfilled positions.

"Arlington is one of the few districts in the state that is not top-heavy in administration," said Larry Shaw of the United Educators Association.

Shaw said Arlington had cut too many of its central office staff in 2011-12.

"We're not out there throwing rocks at this one, because they're needed," Shaw said.

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657

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