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Shelby County School Board: Final 2012-13 budget to be reviewed

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Collins building project to be closed, Northside opened

By Todd Martin

The Shelby County Board of Education will take a look at the present, past and future at Thursday’s 7 p.m. meeting at the district’s offices, 1155 Main Street.

The board will look to approve the district’s working budget after setting the tax rate for the 2012-13 fiscal year at 71.5 cents per $100 of assessed value on real estate and personal property tax, a 2.6 percent increase.

Although it was 1.8-cent increase to the tax rate, the adopted rate actually will provide the district with about $98,000 less in revenue from general property taxes because of declining property values. The increase should provide about $110,000 to cover lost state revenue and account for the cost of two more professional days for teachers.

Those changes will be incorporated into the district’s tentative budget, which was presented in May. At that time, the district’s total budget was about $58.8 million, including the general, building capital outlay, special revenue and food services funds. The general fund, which includes most of the district’s expenses, was presented at $43.3 million, up .4 percent from 2011-12.

Projected expenses for the general fund were $42.6 million, down .6 percent from 2011-12.

At that meeting, District Director of Finance Greg Murphy described the budget as “even tighter” than last year’s “razor thin budget.”

Looking to the past, the district will put to rest the Collins High School building project. A few change orders and direct purchase orders will precede the considered approval of closing out the project.

However, this only closes out the building project. The athletics complex and the road/foundation building projects remain open.

And looking ahead to the future, the board will consider approval of beginning the process for the Northside Early Childhood Center, which will operate two sessions of preschool, daily. On the agenda is board approval of the opening the project, followed by reviewing bids and awarding a contract for construction.

Finance committee

There is no item on the agenda to address the board’s disbanding of the finance committee, which was suggested at its meeting on Sept. 13, but that’s because it doesn’t have to be.

“I had to go back and research it, but the finance committee was created out of a board discussion, not a board action item,” Superintendent James Neihof said. “ Because of that, it doesn’t have to be voted on to be disbanded. So we’ll bring it up in the board discussion, and I’ll ask them if they want to suspend it.”

Board member Sam Hinkle expressed concerns during that meeting that the committee, which was created in 2006, might be part of the problem with the public’s lack of confidence in the board’s financial management. He suggested then that the disbanding of the committee be put on Thursday’s agenda and the committee’s work be done in the open meeting to allow more transparency to the board’s financial work.

Also at the meeting, the board will:

  • Have a second session on the new State Accountability System.
  • Consider approval of recognition of a support organization for the 2012-13 school year.
  • Consider approval of the intent to apply for grants at Wright Elementary.
  • Declare a positive first reading on revised SCPS board policies and review of revised administrative procedures.