A study committee appointed by Bedford County Financial Management Committee chose to defer a recommendation on modifying the proposed school system budget amendment in a meeting Monday afternoon.
The committee -- composed of county commissioner Jeff Yoes and school board members Andrea Anderson, Ron Adcock, Chad Graham and Diane Neeley -- unanimously recommended the move, also requesting that a special session of the full school board be called as soon as possible, preferably this week.
"When it's all said and done we just need to know how many teachers we need," said Adcock, the school board's vice-chair.
Over an hour of discussion, with statistics showing most schools and grade levels were at or close to suggested state student-teacher ratios, led to requests for funding for two teaching positions at Harris Middle School, one English as a Second Language teacher and a half-position for a band instructor at Liberty School.
Neeley told the committee the positions could be filled for $104,600, which could be found by moving around positions.
The original amendment approved by the school board and submitted to the county commission in August, prior to the Celebration break, had called for seven new positions.
School superintendent Ray Butrum had said that six positions were necessary and he was asking for a seventh in case of additional growth in student population. But the county commission has failed to approve the amendment, asking for additional information.
The county Financial Management Committee, considering the amendment again last month, voted to appoint a study committee to discuss it further.
Suggestions included having guidance counselors take some teaching duties and filling some part-time positions with retired teachers.
"I think we should defer it back to the school board for potential adjustment," Graham asked, followed by Yoes' question if "defer" was the word they wanted to use. All answered affirmatively.
"I was surprised when I got the call that this committee was created," Yoes said, reminding members that they had the choice of recommending or not recommending the budget or deferring the decision.
Adcock said he had been at Harris earlier Monday going over the situation with principal Jimmy Sullivan and helping determine the school's needs.
Much of the discussion centered on need for a full-time band director at Harris, as opposed to the current part-time position, and need for an additional system English as a Second Language teacher to meet the state standard of one for each 40 students, an increase from previous years.
"They need a full-time band teacher, that's for sure," Adcock said.
The county currently has 18 ESL teachers and needs 19, Adcock said, also noting the correct term is ELL (English Language Learners).
"This late in the year do we want to be relocating teachers?" Adcock asked.
"Financially, we're in distress," Yoes said. "We'll have to have a tax increase to have a budget next year."
-- T-G City Editor John I. Carney contributed to this story.