School Board Meets To Finalize 2019 2020 Budget

The Jefferson County School Board met Thursday evening, May 9, 2019 in the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse to finalize their fiscal year 2019/2020 budget document in anticipation of presentation before the Jefferson County Budget Committee later this month. In a motion from School Board Chair Potts and with a second from Board Member Pinkerton, the Board voted 6-1 to present their operating budget of $57,776,638 which represents a balanced budget comprised of both state and local dollars to the Jefferson County Budget Committee for recommendation to the full County Commission. Included in that motion was an additional request for $500,000 in matching funds from the County Commission for school capital improvements. School Board Member Fair was the lone dissenting vote which, according to Fair, was due to the request for matching funds rather than a problem with the budget document.

In addition to regular yearly line items, the fiscal year 2019/2020 budget includes an across the board 2% raise for all employees and supplements, as well as step raises which have been in place for several budget cycles and were intended to smooth the salary lines. For the upcoming fiscal year, the Board also increased their capital projects line from $200,000 to $500,000 in anticipation of upgrades that will be on the table after a professional needs evaluation is received. Much of the ability to increase the capital line item has come from attrition, meaning positions that were vacated and not replaced, as well as other salary adjustments. An increase in BEP funding, which comes from the State of Tennessee and local sales and property tax also allowed for a favorable budget position for the Department of Education.

School Chair Potts noted that the School Board and County Commission have partnered on projects in the past to the benefit of the tax payers and that nothing is lost by requesting another partnership during the budget process. Pinkerton echoed the statement and the majority of the Board were in agreement. Fair stated that the County outlook is not as favorable as the school system’s and that it was not a good time, in her opinion, to request additional funding. In other action the Board also unanimously approved the federal and food nutrition budgets for the fiscal year 2019/2020.

In other action, the Board discussed transportation issues stemming from high school and middle school students being picked up at elementary school locations after school and dropped off before school. Following an incident at Piedmont School, the Board is seeking a solution that will not be a hardship to students or parents but will curtail crowding and behavior issues at locations that are not host schools. The Board approved 6-1 with Fair voting No to use up to $40,000 left in capital projects for upgrades to the Boys/Girls Soccer Locker Room, which is shared between the two teams. Any left over funds would go into capital reserve for other projects. The motion for the action came from School Board Member Solomon and was seconded by School Board Member Cox. The Board unanimously approved several field trips, general housekeeping budget amendments and policy readings, as well as Federal and Special Education Programs for 2019/2020. They also approved surplus from transportation and a name that was previously omitted from the Tenure List, in addition to approving the Jefferson County Anglers as a new sports club for students.

For information and the possibility of future action the Board heard a presentation from Nancy McCubbins on Vertical Harvest and the possibility of it coming to Jefferson County High School.

The Board will meet next month to look at property near Maury Middle School that it has been requested to sell and will handle end of the year housekeeping as the fiscal year 2018/2019 comes to a close.

Source: K. Depew, News Director