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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George Miller, January 19, 1991. Interview M-0015. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Miller's total control over school funds served to control public perceptions of his leadership

Miller explains his strategies for prioritizing and utilizing school funds. He argues that open communication with teachers prevented rumors of misused funds. This passage reveals Miller's need to micromanage facets of school operations.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George Miller, January 19, 1991. Interview M-0015. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

GOLDIE F. WELLS:
Tell me about the utilization of funds. The best way to utilize fund
GEORGE MILLER:
The best way to utilize funds is to explain to teachers, which most principals don't like to do, the source and amount of all funds. You have state funds, local funds and your general funds. A lot of the high school teachers did not know that 7th and 8th grades were considered elementary. They got special allotments. Principals didn't tell the teachers they got special allotments and therefore, they could finagle. If you got vocational money, book fee money, home ec money, physical ed money, let us know where all of it is. And then you get your department heads together and along about a month from now, I'de say the middle of March, each department head would contact the teacher and find out what their needs were going to be for the following year. That would be on a white page. They would make me a summary on the blue sheet on each one and I would summarize all of them and I'de meet with the total amount of the funds and whatever it took for band--they may not go to band a lot or glee club a lot but you've got to have it. There is a funding problem. All right, the state this year decided they were going to cut out a certain amount of free products. You need to know that. Everybody in the school needs to know that. In the bricklaying class, the company will give you 2,000 bricks but how long will 2,000 last; therefore, how much will you give to bricklaying? How much do you give to carpentry? How much does a math class need every year? If they have their competencies and their scales all those things they give, how much do they need every year. We'll get some other class that is using it up. And in that way, when you do that that is hypothetical, you see, at that school, Price High School, we had a total of $20,000 coming in but we had a request for $25,000. Now they had to set priorities. What comes first? After you said priorities each teacher knew what they were going to get. Next, I committed them to order what they wanted for the next year before school was out. When school opened everything was on hand. If they had something they wanted to hold back, it would be there. If an emergency arose, you had another meeting. For example, one year we had the price to go up on mimeograph paper 100%. From 34 cents a ream to 69 cents per ream. Therefore, if you are allotted so much for supplies something had to give. The next thing is what you do with the general funds. That is your biggest problem. Money that is raised outside of allotments. I handle that differently. I did not allow the athletic director to handle the funds. We had an athletic finance committee. The athletic director submitted his needs but you got someone who was unattached to that and that would generally be the head of the math department or someone and we would do the accounting that way. As far as the tickets and everything we'll meet your needs if we could. Then we ordered in bulk--that is another thing. We could place your order for certain supplies that you need for athletics or whatever you have and the system would put it on bids which meant that you were able to save that way. Then came the problem. Money that was raised during these years how do you account for that. There is only one answer that you can give. If there had not been a school here, would you be raising the money. You're raising it because there is a school here, the school is going to have a say so in it. Now we can have a French Club and you can raise thousands of dollars but you are not going to take that money and have a French party. We made some decisions on that. Therefore, we have to keep teachers from going way ahead. And such projects as yearbooks and whatnot. The yearbook people have all the money in pictures. You run into some things and how do you equate that. Then if the yearbook people handle all that and don't tell the other faculty members how much is taken in and how much is involved, there comes the whispering. Any time you have something it should be accounted for it and I don't care what it is there should be an accounting. The hardest thing to account for is concessions at a game. We had a way of doing that. We carried all of our equipment together, we sold everything and the people were in charge, we had so many cups, and we come back and counted what was left so you better have one for so many others. This kept down the problem. But now when I came back and went to work in Gaston County, this became a problem. Outside interests--Booster Club, who needed a Booster Club. I didn't need a Booster Club. I could handle my own program. I ran into a situation where the Booster Club wanted to run the whole program. That didn't make you popular then.