Blair Oaks Superintendent Jim Jones returned to work - part time - last week after suffering nearly fatal injuries in a traffic crash on May 24.
Although he is confined to a wheelchair and has numerous broken bones still healing, Jones told the Blair Oaks Board of Education he was able to put in a few hours of work last week and that a newly constructed accessible ramp to the district's office has helped.
At the board's monthly meeting Tuesday night, Jones took a quiet moment to collect his emotions before he thanked all the people who have helped him and his family since the
accident almost four weeks ago.
"It's God's gift I'm blessed enough to be sitting here today," he said. "I really appreciate all the thoughts and well wishes. It's meant a lot to me and meant so much more to my kids."
Jones also credited other members of his administrative team for helping in his absence, but he especially praised Sheila Prenger, director of business operations.
"People were ready to respond in whatever way was necessary. Everybody stepped up," he said.
Jones was flown by ambulance after a two-vehicle crash on U.S. 50. The accident left him with a broken pelvis; numerous fractures to his hand, forearm and shoulder; and a cracked mandible. Since the accident, surgeons used pins to stabilize his pelvis and plates to knit his jaw back together. His shoulder and arm is also immobilized.
"I'm very fortunate not to have suffered any spinal cord and other internal injuries," he said. "My next challenge is (to be able to put) weight on my feet. Right now, I'm trying to come up with the patience not to over-do it."
At Monday's board meeting, the board approved a preliminary budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year; a more-detailed document will be presented and considered at the August meeting, Jones said.
At $10.08 million, it's the second time in Blair Oak's history that the district's budget has exceeded $10 million, Jones noted.
"One of our board goals is to get the unrestricted fund balance to 20 percent," he said, noting the preliminary budget will meet that goal.
Jones also said the budget isn't written with a tax increase to the district's operating and debt service levies in mind.
"Those will stay right where they've been," he said.
He added that the budget also calls for increased spending for technology, including more funding for wireless Internet hubs and a full-time technology coordinator.
"It's an area where we need to make a commitment," he said.
In other business, the board:
• Approved a $39,265 contract with Weathercraft Inc. to repair segments of the high school and elementary school roofs.
• Approved trip requests for students involved with Future Leaders of America and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. Students with those groups will be traveling to national conventions in Anaheim and Nashville, respectively.
• Adjusted the extra-duty salary schedule - which primarily set extra pay for coaches - upward by 1 percent for next school year.
• Met in executive session.