LOWNDES COUNTY -- The Lowndes County Board of Education looked at a budget amendment during its regular work session last week. The amendment contains about $3,680,987 worth of additions to the budget in terms of state and federal grants.

Lowndes County BOE Superintendent Dr. Steve Smith said that although these grants are applied for yearly and received, the BOE didn't have the exact amounts when they put together the 2003 budget.

"This is not money that we got that we weren't expecting to get," Smith said, adding that the extra money will not help with the budget cuts that made BOE officials cut the number of field trips students may attend. The state cut funds from various places in the budget except direct instruction.

The grants help fund the following items: classroom reduction, technology, preschool, grades 4-8 after school programs and the K-3 reading programs, safe and drug-free schools, innovative programs, capacity building grant, and flowthrough.

Smith said the county can't grant money for anything else other than what the funds were allocated for, without disciplinary action.

The BOE members also discussed changing its student information system. Under state mandate, school systems throughout the state must get rid of the Osiris system and choose another system that keeps track of student information, such as attendance and grades. Technology Director Owen Prince told the BOE that the school system has looked into at least two systems, Sassy and SchoolMax. There are several programs on the market.

Smith said the BOE had budgeted about $330,000 for a new program, and that the state is anticipated to provide about $204,649 for the changeover.

Prince added that everyone who inputs student data had a chance to view presentations of both programs, although not everyone had taken advantage of it. Of those who had, a majority of them preferred Sassy. If the board approves the program, Prince said Lowndes County would be the 90th school system in the state to use it.

The basic program costs about $250,000, Prince said.

To contact reporter Marie Arrington, please call 244-3400, ext. 254.

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