THE HUNTER REPORT
School Board Takes NO Action
$278,856 in RED
Latest Budget Change - Buy Text Books from Reserve Funds!
By: Pat Hunter
May 31, 2009
The Loudon County Board of Education held a Special Called Budget meeting on Thursday May 21st however, Board members Bobby Johnson, Jr., Steve Harrelson and Craig Simon, did not attend.
School Director Honeycutt previously requested input from the School Board regarding the proposed ($634,668) FY 09-10 budget. Honeycutt mentioned that the latest budget adjustment was largely due to a reduction of $355,812, which proposes to move an expenditure for school text books from the operating budget 101 to the school’s fund balance. The Budget Committee and Commission has frowned on the School Board’s practice of dipping into the school’s reserves (fund balance) for reoccurring yearly expenses such as school books or employee pay raises. The latest proposed budget is still $278,856 in the red. Business Manager Bennie Sims covered the other changes, from the last proposed budget. The changes are reflected in the far right hand corner of the budget below.
Van Shaver was the only school board member that came prepared to offer suggestions for trimming fat from the budget. While other Board members sat and listened, Van Shaver spoke about how the school budget grew $12 Million in 5-years, audit to audit. During that same period, student enrollment increased by an estimated 150-200 students to enrollment for the same period. Over 100 teachers were added above BEP and 60 para-pros were hired. He urged cuts and reductions to travel, cell phones, hiring freeze, Coordinated Health, Pre-K, and a number of other cuts but there was no support by other school board members. School Board member Lisa Russell suggested asking department heads to look for cuts in their respective departments, she felt that was a reasonable request. Shaver pointed out how others (school systems, etc.) are making cuts and that pennies would be needed for the proposed school building plan.
The School Board heard a presentation from Director Honeycutt. Business Manager Benny Sims presented two pages of final end of year budget amendments, which the Board approved.
Director Honeycutt furnished the Board with a sample of a job description for an administrative assistant/insurance clerk, which he proposes to create. The new position would handle paperwork, which was previously administered by nine school secretaries. According to Honeycutt, another person could be added without increasing the budget by moving the special education assistant into special education, where they should be. He spoke about moving another employee who works for federal projects. Honeycutt's plan is to eventually cross train staff. He asked for approval for the new position, he received no motion or second. Scott Newman said that two positions in Central Office were eliminated last year and he did not favor a new position. He thought that someone was just asking for a secretary.
Additional staff were hired in the County purchasing and financial department down the hall way, he explained. Nonetheless, he was asking for a new position with BOE Central Office
For years, the State Comptrollers Office had audit findings about the School Department not following certain state law when it came to the accounting of certain funds, also referred to as the "bag of money."
Director Honeycutt said that there were no growth positions calculated in the proposed budget but that he thought that Steekee and Philadelphia would need one teacher at each school. Its not new growth in enrollment but a distribution of students, said Business Manager Sims. Three or four new growth positions may be needed if enrollment is increased.
The School Board did not take action on Honeycutt’s recommendation. However, School Board member Bill Marcus made a motion, seconded by Scott Newman, to form a Committee to look into salary schedule for secretaries that were left out and the entire scale, which was unanimously approved by the Board. The Committee will be comprised of Scotty Newman, Gary Ubben, Larry Proaps and Van Shaver.
School Board member Gary Ubben spoke about property values and how Loudon County ranked 6th statewide. When you look at property values, we (Loudon County) are a very wealthy county, we just elected not to spend it in education. Gary Ubben also favored creating a new position as suggested by the school director. Larry Proaps favored creating the new position and he thought that the cost to pay for the position would be a wash.
Chairman Leroy Tate did not support cuts because he thought that would set back education. Last year, Tate sang a far different tune urging the School Board to make cuts. Next year, Leroy Tate is up for re-election in his district.
The School Board is expected to help fund the school building plan by contributing pennies from their budget; that range could be between $180,000 to $360,000. How and when that happens remains to be seen given that the School Director Honeycutt and School Board don't seem to have the fortitude to balance the budget or look for additional pennies to fund the proposed school building plan?
With the latest budget revision Director Honeycutt favored sending the proposed budget as is to Commission for their input. Revenues are unknown at this time and adjustments will have to be made anyway.
Budget Highlights: Salaries make 2 percent increase in steps. Add to budget- assistant principals, which will be calculated in 11 months.
Click to view PDF file - School Board's Latest DRAFT Proposal
FY09-10 School Budget May 21, 2009 and DRAFT Page 21 $278,856 in RED