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Homewood School Board sets budget hearing date, approves new hires

The Homewood School Board has set a date for a public hearing on District 153’s fiscal year 2019 budget.
The hearing will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 in the James Hart Media Center, 18220 Morgan St. The board is set to take action on the budget during its regular meeting scheduled immediately after the hearing.
Superintendent Dale Mitchell said he does not expect to hear much debate before the budget comes to a vote, as no big changes are proposed.
“We do long-range financial planning, so five years, and every year we update that financial plan,” Mitchell said. “So there are really no surprises.”
He added that the board’s finance and property committee will be able to answer questions about the proposed budget before the entire board and the public, which serves to provide transparency.
“Everybody kind of knows where we’re at and what we’re doing for kids to serve their needs,” Mitchell said.
Preliminary numbers are available for public inspection in the district office prior to the hearing. State law requires a budget be approved by Sept. 30. 
In other news, the board approved 11 new hires during its Aug. 20 meeting, including two fifth-grade teachers and a special education assistant at Churchill; a music teacher, seventh-grade science teacher, social worker, response to intervention coordinator and assistant at James Hart; a pre-K teacher and supervisor at Willow; and a district-wide speech and language pathologist.
Mitchell said the district will have about 20 total new certified staff for the 2018–19 school year, which mirrors the number of new staff brought on last year.
“I think our big three reasons this year (included) retirements; we had three people having babies who decided to take a year leave of absence, and we also promoted some teachers into new positions,” he said.
Board President Shelly Marks said 100 percent of teachers hired for the 2017–18 school year are back working with the district this year, a statistic she said she cannot remember seeing before.
“That’s really a tribute to the great job that our principals did in hiring, but it also speaks volumes about how the rest of our staff has embraced and helped our new staff feel a part of the 153 family,” she said. “It’s not just about hiring people; it’s about making sure they want to stay.”
Classes begin for District 153 students on Wednesday, Aug. 22.

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