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Shelby County School Board: Early budget review shows general shortfall

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Committee will suggest cuts to balance expenses

By Todd Martin

The Shelby County Board of Education took its first look at the projected 2013-14 draft budget during Thursday’s meeting at the district’s offices.

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“The objective is to do a preliminary review – it doesn’t need an approval – of the outlook for next year’s, the 2013-14, budget,” said Greg Murphy, director of finance. “We will continue to update you as we gain more data.”

The difference this year is the district elected not to make any cuts before presenting the draft budget to the board, instead submitting an unbalanced budget.

The 2013-14 total projected revenue of all funds is about $60.2 million, an increase of about 1.2 percent from 2012-13, and expenses are projected to be about $59.4 million, an increase of about 1 percent.

However, many of the funds – like building, debt service and food service – are restricted in their use.

Where the district runs into issues is with the general fund, in which the projected revenue for next year, about $44.6 million, will not cover the expenses, about $45.2 million.

More than 86.4 percent of the general-fund expenses come from salaries and benefits. It also includes technical services, supplies and miscellaneous expenses.

“The one-point-two percent increase in salaries is strictly based on experience,” Murphy told the board. “This does not include any new positions or, obviously, any raises.”

The budget also would include a 9.6 percent contingency fund, which is almost $4.3 million.

Superintendent James Neihof told the board before the presentation that recommendations from a budget committee will be coming next month.

“The recommendations they [committee members] make will provide you with the necessary information to set a staffing allocation for next year that can be supported by the projected recurring revenue provided in the draft budget,” he said.

The budget committee, which includes Neihof, Murphy and board member Brenda Jackson along with other staff members, has been doing an item-by-item review of the budget.

“The committee’s recommendations, coupled with your input next month, will guide my decisions as I propose to you a balanced tentative budget recommendation later this spring,” he said.

The board must approve a tentative budget by May 30.

Nutrition, physical activity report

Other than Shelby County High School student board representative Justin Stewart’s request that the portions be larger, a report on student nutrition by Evell Coomer, the district’s food service coordinator, was well met.

Coomer reported that the district’s lunch service was up 1.4 percent so far this year and has an average daily participation of about 65 percent of the students.

“We’ve been very proactive with providing whole grains to our students, so when it became time to introduce changes this year, we were already meeting the standards,” she told the board. “About the only change we had to make requiring students to have a fruit or vegetable with every meal purchased. Some haven’t liked that.”

Coomer said the district has had to add a more diverse selection of fruits and vegetables, including dark leafy greens and orange starches, like sweet potato fries.

“I got to admit, I do like the sweet potato fries,” Collins student board representative Lauren Greenwell said.

District Health Coordinator Traci Earley also received a thank you from the board for her report on physical activity, which noted that each school in the district is exceeding the amount of time required.

Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Recognized Collins student Taylor Nash, who was invited to join Gov. Steve Beshear and speak on behalf of students for Beshear’s addition of the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs.
  • Awarded What Outstanding Work awards to migrant education program employee Elizabeth Mandeel and Collins teachers and secretary Sarah Gonzalez, Julie Stacy and Stacy Beard.
  • Recognized new National Board Certified Teachers Michelle Cox, Eric Herndon and Adam Hicks from Shelby County High School; Nura Mandeel of East Middle; Katey Martin and Vicki Stoltz of Clear Creek Elementary; Bridget Just of Simpsonville Elementary; and Ryan McDowell of Wright Elementary.
  • Approved extending the agreement with Mather & Co. CPAs to perform audit services for 2 more years.
  • Approved claims and authorized the superintendent to sign all necessary documentation.
  • Approved the 2012-13 Comprehensive District Improvement Plan and individual school plans.
  • Approved waiving board policy to allow Collins ROTC students to travel on a Sunday, Feb. 17.
  • Approved Wright Elementary School’s intent to apply for two Alpha Delta Kappa School House grants and a National ADK fine arts grant.
  • Approved leave of absence requests.