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.