THE HUNTER REPORT
BOE FY 14-15 OPERATING BUDGET
BY: PAT HUNTER
The Loudon County Board of Education Budget Committee met at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 17th in the BOE Boardroom, County Office Building. Budget Committee members in attendance: Will Jenkins (Chair), Leroy Tate, Gary Ubben and Phil Moffett. Others in attendance: Director Jason Vance, Mike Garren, Assistant Director and Chad Presley, Business Manager, BOE Board member Ric Best and one citizen, myself; no press.
The purpose of the Budget Committee meeting was to examine and discuss the preliminary FY 14-15 of $36,199,426.00 Operating Budget #141. Highlights of the proposed FY 14-15 Budget:
Step and 1 ˝ percent pay raise for all certified and non-certified personnel para-pros. The Governor announced that the State will not give pay raises to State employees and teachers so any proposed pay raise will have to come from local funds or fund balance. Budget member Gary Ubben spoke about the missed step from 5 –years back and he suggested two steps but the consensus was to give a step and 1 ˝ percent pay raise as the budget indicated.
State Education BEP Funds - a very slight increase.
Increase in the utility (electricity budget) because of two new schools, and colder than normal winter.
Increase in the maintenance and repair services building budget.
Budget member Leroy Tate argued in support of increasing the Special Education budget by $100,000.
A contingency of two additional teachers is factored into the budget.
What impact will the Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care) have on the budget asked Budget member Leroy Tate. Director Vance responded that the impact would be in the Cafeteria Budget #143 and Cafeteria personnel with an estimated cost increase of $30,000 - $40,000. Note: the Cafeteria Budget #143 is a separate budget (Federal) not part of the Operating Budget #141.
Savings have been realized because of the Teacher Incentives Retirements. Teachers with seniority have been replaced with new teachers and applicable pay scale.
RN pay increase (2) nurses. The BOE previously approved a raise in nurse pay.
Parapros have not been cut in several years but positions are being filled with part-time help, with no benefits. Assistants pay is still better than surrounding areas.
Vocational Education Program is working on a grant to expand programs. With the anticipation of some Vo Tech teachers retiring, other programs will be evaluated and offered. Information will be furnished at a later time.
Will look at coaching supplements (sports) in the near future.
Bus contracts will remain the same but Director Vance will need to schedule meetings with bus drivers in the near future.
Board travel remained at $26,000 and the Director's Travel line item at $13,000. (Note: At the Gatlinburg Retreat the Board discussed extending the Retreat into the weekend, and giving Principals more time to share updates. Board member Gary Ubben suggested monthly updates at each school but that idea was not popular).
As the meeting neared the end, Board member Leroy Tate made a motion to approve $36,300,000.00 Operating Budget (preliminary budget $36,199,426), second by Phil Moffett. Aye: Tate and Moffett. Absent: Jenkins and Ubben.
With projected total revenues of $35,027,169, and proposed Expenditures of $36,300,000; the projected shortfall will be an estimated $1,272,831 (loss).
The Budget Committee spoke about sending the preliminary FY 14-15 Budget with the adjustments to the next BOE workshop meeting on Thursday, May 1. Since Budget Chair Will Jenkins left the meeting early followed by Budget member Gary Ubben, the two budget committee members were not present when the vote was taken; no quorum was present.
Last year, Loudon County Commission approved $36,000,000 for the #141 Operating Budget, and the Board of Education dipped into the fund balance by $957,310.
Unless Commission approves additional funding to cover the $36.3 Million Operating Budget, it looks like the Board of Education will have to trim the budget or dip into the fund balance, once again. Estimated ending fund balance: $5,184,065.
The ball will be in Budget Committee and County Commission’s court.
On a related budget note: Budget Chair Mayor Estelle Herron is expected to distribute her #101 FY 14-15 County Operating Budget and recommendations to the Budget Committee on Monday, April 21st. The County Budget Committee will either meet in public to examine the budget, or just rubber stamp Mayor Herron's preliminary FY 14-15 County Budget.
The County Capitals Projects recommendations from last week will also be forwarded to the Budget Committee. (County Budget Committee: Chair Estelle Herron, Don Miller, Bob Franke, David Meers, and Roy Bledsoe).