The outlook either prepares the district for cuts or the supervisors to raise revenues to pay for the budget.
Schools superintendent, Gena Keller, presented on behalf of the School Board. Included in the entire report was ideal situation. Both sides openly discussed ideal probably won’t happen.
The first gap the school budget has to fill is $950,000. The district received $650,000 to open the new high school and $300,000 to eliminate the need for three of seven furlough days.
To eliminate the need for any furlough days, contribute $50 per employee more for health insurance and have funds for operational and instructional services the district would need $1,665,000 for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). It would also cost $300,000 to meet short term and long term technology needs.
It is highly anticipated federal Title I funds will be reduced or removed. Most of the Title I funding goes to read throughout the elementary level and mainly spent on staffing. To keep five literacy support staff, it would cost $250,000.
The big addition that the boards talked heavily about is increasing STEM-H classes. STEM-H stands for courses in science, technology, engineering, math and health. These courses are also often called career-tech. Full funding of an increase course offering would be $608,000.
In the ‘ideal scenario’ the school district would be able to do the entire slate.
The largest possible cut being discussed is closing Cunningham and Columbia schools. Both schools would save a maximum of $900,000. To close just Cunningham Elementary School would be $700,000. Closing just Columbia Elementary School would save $550,000.
The reason the numbers don’t add up is because if both schools are closed, the district saves on some personnel costs but would have to hire various specialist as required by Standards of Quality. Closing just one school wouldn’t require as much hiring of various specialists.
Other smaller savings could occur with elimination of various district level or school level staff. The district could also restructure alternative education and the extracurricular activities to save some fuel costs.
On the Board of Supervisors side is how to raise enough revenue to pay for the budget. During the meeting chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia District) said tax collections is around 90 percent compared to a budgeted figure of 95 percent.
Kenney also mentioned that the long term plan of the the board is to bring water to Zion Crossroad area. The rounded figure of a small project to at least bring water for an initial build is ‘just south of $1 million,’ said Kenney during the meeting.
“Until we get economic development off the ground, that again will cause pain, the only one to help us is ourselves,” said Kenney.
The two boards seem to at least be at an understanding of what costs are out there.
School Board chairwoman Camilla Washington said, “This is healthy conversation.”
The next scheduled joint work session is Feb. 20. Both discussed possibly working an earlier date in towards the end of January ahead of the February date.
“I just think we have to continue to communicate,” said Keller.