BOE holds first public budget hearing
by Briana Webster
Sep 11, 2013 | 2166 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Walker County Board of Education held its first public budget hearing Tuesday morning. After a brief approval of the minutes from last month’s meetings, board members heard from the county’s chief school financial officer, Margaret Scurlock.

“This year our revenues are $84.7 million; that’s up from $83.06 last year. Basically, the increase is because of the 2 percent raise we got from the state this year, and they’re funding a portion of that,” Scurlock said. “You can also see now our units are less. We’re funded for less foundation program units this year at FY ‘14 than we were at FY ‘13, and that’s because of the loss of enrollment.” 

She continued with the summary of the budget by discussing the requirement of matching the foundation program funds, which has decreased by $585,500 due to the value of a meal being reduced. Scurlock said the price has gone down almost $60,000 per meal, meaning the system isn’t required to match as much for fiscal year 2014.

The sales tax summary stated a decrease of $300,000 in budgeted amounts projected for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. For the FY 2011-2012 it was $10.3 million and jumped to a projected $11.7 million for FY 2012-2013. Scurlock then divided the sales tax receipts for FY ‘12 and FY ‘13 by month.

“I wanted to show you this, what’s been happening from month by month. It’s becoming a little concerning,” Scurlock said. “You see, each month what we received in 2012 and what we’ve received thus far in 2013, and notice the first part of the year, we had mostly increases. Then, from February on, it began to be more decreases. Notice June, we had a decrease of $215,000 in that one month, meaning we received $215,000 less this year than we did the same time last year. ... This is something we’re going to have to watch.” 

The summary for expenditures of all funds totaled out to $91.9 million, which is up from $86 million last year.

The major difference when totaling those funds came from the capital projects fund where Scurlock said they are projecting it to be $11.4 million due to the building of the new Sumiton school.

Other matters discussed in the budget included a loss of 6.89 state units, a summary of all employees, three categories of debt (leveraged debt paid out of public school funds, $21.65 million local bond issue and school bus debt paid out of the fleet renewal funds), the outlay of the capital projects fund and the ending point for the general fund budget.

Superintendent Jason Adkins said about the proposed budget, “Any time you’re moving forward and adding to the general fund, you can be pleased with it. But, I’m not completely pleased with the amount of local units due to the loss of enrollment from last year, which led to us losing six units, but at the same time you’re not up here to hoard money. You’re here to educate children.

“We’ve added some units at the center of technology that attributed to that, and we’ve added a school here and there. I think we’re trying to align things to where we get the most mileage out of those units. ... We’ll just have to keep a close watch on that in the future.” 

In other business: 

•board member Dale Reeves raised a question about the current contract the board had with a particular energy company.

“In this report, how much longer do we have on this contract, where we keep having to go around and cutting everything off in the school and turning them back on? You got on this report here, it says, ‘tried something new,’ but it didn’t tell what it was, and it helped save us over 10 percent,” Reeves said. “It takes those air conditioners so long to catch those schools back up to get them cooled down and get them warmed when they’ve been cut off.” 

Other board members made mention of similar issues with energy efficient alternatives. Adkins said the previous board signed the contract before he was elected as superintendent, but he said they will look into the matter before the contract ends in June 2014.

•board members approved the professional, support and regular personnel lists.

•the board approved a non-faculty (volunteer) list of coaches.

•members approved the accounting and fiscal operations manual, LEA plan, English learner plan and two school trips — T.S. Boyd and Valley Jr. High.

•the board also approved the HeadStart emergency request for funds from the HeadStart Allocations-Atlanta Office.

HeadStart director Steve Rowe contacted the office in Atlanta and asked if they had leftover funds for the end of the fiscal year, which ends in September, and if they may need to spend them. Adkins said now Rowe may get $40,000 to upgrade the HeadStart playgrounds.

The next regular board meeting and second public budget hearing will be Thursday at 4:30 p.m.