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Upgrades are proposed for Murray High

Murray High School would receive nearly $3.5 million in structural upgrades under the Murray School District's proposed $42.5 million budget.

The Murray Board of Education holds its 1999-2000 budget hearing tonight.Murray High's A and B wings, which include classrooms built in the 1950s, need upgrades including seismic retrofits, new wiring and roof improvements, said district spokeswoman Julie Woodward. The wings are the school's oldest structures.

"Murray High is the biggest project we'll begin to think about next year," said district business administrator Tim Leffel.

The district is establishing a committee to review and recommend what the building needs, including whether to tear down or remodel certain areas, Woodward said. The building has been evaluated by architects, which indicated structural deficiencies. The committee will include community members.

Money for structural upgrades is set aside in the proposed budget, though work may not begin for a few years.

In other budget highlights, existing district funds are also being targeted in the curriculum department, said Steve Hirase, assistant superintendent over curriculum.

Changes include $21,500 for school-based grants to address district priorities; $22,300 for the Academy of Instruction for ongoing mentoring and teacher training; $12,300 for a committee to look at ways to improve testing and provide more comprehensive test-result information to parents; and $27,000 for a team to address curriculum needs as they arise, such as in teacher training, Hirase said.

The district foresees leaving 11 teaching positions unfilled due to enrollment decreases and because the teaching staff was not reduced last year despite enrollment falling below projections.

The some 6,600-student district expects to enroll 216 fewer children next school year. No teachers will be laid off; rather, 11 of those retiring will not be replaced.

The budget reflects a 2.55 percent increase for salaries and a 4 percent increase for group insurance. It also includes a 2.5 percent increase for supplies and textbooks as the state gave no one-time funds for such supplies for next school year. The district also will hire three elementary reading teachers under state class-size reduction funds.

Technology will receive $200,000 in district money and $65,000 from the state to upgrade computer systems.

School lunch will increase 10 cents.

The budget also may include a slight bump in property tax.