School Board Votes To Send Un-Balanced Budget To Commission

The Jefferson County School Board will send a deficit budget to the Jefferson County Commission for approval for the fiscal year 2021-2022. School Board Member Jarnigan offered a motion to send the budget as presented, which was balanced, for budget committee and, ultimately, full commission approval. He was 2nd by School Board Member Bradley but the motion was amended by School Board Members Pinkerton and Solomon to send a budget that included a $250,000 deficit. The amendment was born of discussion earlier in the meeting regarding the loss of capital project funding from county budget. Several budget cycles ago the commission revoked contribution to the school’s capital project fund until the cost of repairs on Jefferson County High School Building 8 due to roof collapse were not carried in the county’s debt service. The agreement between the county and schools also allowed the schools to keep all insurance money and recovered funds associated with the collapse which totaled more than $750,000 . School Board Chair Potts indicated that she would like to see the funding returned to the DOE budget to assist with school capital projects. The Pinkerton/ Solomon amendment added $250,000 to the capital projects budget and approved contracted services for a public relations liaison for the Department of Education at a cost that was not determined but to be found inside the budget proposal. The amended motion was approved unanimously.

In other action, the School Board moved to fund renovations at Piedmont Elementary School at $10.6 million dollars, which would come from a pandemic related grant of $15 million dollars. Also to be funded from that grant are new roofs at several schools leaving around $500,000 still to be appropriated. Information provided from the Lewis Group ( architects for the project) was that the project drawings could be ready by December. Parameters of the grant require that the funds be used by 2024. According to Director of Schools Johnston, there is a possibility that some of the fund could be used for a new school build but it would require approval for the project as the current stipulations are that the grant be used for existing buildings.

Jefferson County Finance Director Potts informed the Board that local sales revenue was up and that the budget document reflected 2019 sales numbers plus 5% to off set the impact of the stimulus on 2020 numbers and assure that revenue is not over projected. BEP funding from the state is also up $500,000 over the current fiscal year. All employees will receive some from of a raise in the proposed budget and there are substantial athletic and activity sponsor/coach supplements ranging from ¾ a percent to 20% depending on the school and category.

Source: K. Depew, News Director