The DeKalb County Board of Education, by a vote of 5 to 2, adopted a tentative budget for the 2009-2010 school year Thursday night which is expected to be presented to the county mayor's office Friday, May 15th.
Board members Kenny Rhody, Johnny Lattimore, W.J. (Dub) Evins III, Joan Draper, and Bruce Parsley voted for it. Board member John David Foutch and Chairman Charles Robinson voted no.
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby calls it a "bare bones" budget since the school system is having to use BEP reserves and federal stimulus money to balance it. There are no local pay raises for employees in the budget, except for the step increases under the pay scale. The budget does includes a one percent increase in health insurance matching for all employees participating in the program.
A few "positions" are being eliminated under the general purpose budget, but the jobs will be saved thanks to the school system's allocation of federal stimulus dollars, which will be used to fund them.
The school board is not asking for a property tax increase this year, but Director Willoughby did not rule out the possibility that the board might have to ask the county commision for more money, should the system run short for fuel and utilities later in the year.
More capital outlay funds are already being requested in order to obtain two portables, one at the high school, and another for either the high school or DeKalb West School to address overcrowding concerns
In a statement to the board and the public, Willoughby said " the 2009-2010 General Purpose Budget before you tonight is again a bare bones budget."
"This year, as in prior years, we have a shortfall in Revenues over Expenditures and have used our reserve funds to balance the budget in order to prevent requesting a tax increase. As the Director of Schools, I am very concerned about the financial impact this will have on the school system if we continue this practice. I fear that our reserve funds will soon be depleted and we will have no money in the bank."
"We are also using funds from the School Sinking Fund (Local Option Sales Tax) as yearly operating revenues. Originally, this fund was established to fund capital outlay projects for the school system (for items such as new roofs) to avoid the need for notes or bonds. In 1995-96, we received $210,000 from this fund. We are now using $1,538,150. This too is a concern. Our buildings must be maintained. It is anticipated that we will need to replace school roofs at DeKalb Middle and DeKalb West in the next few years. The county will need to consider funding for these items as well."
"We are eliminating positions in the General Purpose Budget due to insufficient funds. This will allow our system to use the Federal Stimulus Money to retain these positions for the next two years. This is only a temporary fix. After two years, we will need to fund the positions in General Purpose again with local revenues."
"I would like for everyone to clearly understand that the DeKalb County School System will need additional local revenue, although we are not requesting this for the 2009-2010 school year, it will be needed soon in order to meet the educational needs of the children of DeKalb County."
"I would also like to remind you that should such items as fuel, insurance, and electricity increase, there may be a need for the Board of Education to request additional funding from the county commission."
The county commission's budget committee will now study the school system's proposal and could make changes of it's own, before final passage by the full commission later this summer.
In other business, the High School and Jr. Pro Football programs are seeking permission from the Board of Education to build a new field house for the Tiger football program.
Darrell Gill of Jr. Pro Football formally made the request on behalf of Tiger Coach Steve Trapp during the school board meeting Thursday night. Trapp could not attend due to a scrimmage game involving his team.
Gill said the new fieldhouse would be built with high school football and Jr. Pro funds and that the school system would not be asked for any money. He added that most of the construction would be done with volunteer labor.
The new fieldhouse, a 50 x 70 foot block exterior structure with a metal roof, would be located near the existing facility between the practice field and playing field. It would be for the Tiger football program complete with a dressing room area, locker room, training room, utility room, showers and bathrooms, an office for the coach, and two dry storage areas, one of which would be for the youth football league.
Gill says during the football season, visiting high school teams could use the locker room section of the old building to dress and other local football programs could make use of the existing fieldhouse as well including the middle school, youth football, and high school soccer teams.
The school board's facilities committee will meet next Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the high school football field house to determine if there are legal or liability issues. The board will then meet in special session on Thursday, May 28th to formally approve or deny the request.
Supporters say they want to have the building finished by the time football season gets underway this fall.
Meanwhile, sealed bids are being accepted for the sale of a new house, recently constructed by students in the DCHS Carpentry Class.
The house, located at 140 Evergreen Lane, Smithville, has approximately 1,652 square feet of living area with an attached 528 square foot 2-car garage, master bedroom with master bath and walk-in closet, utility room with half bath, kitchen with eating area, and downstairs den area. The upstairs includes two bedrooms, sitting room, and full bath, 12 x 20 deck, 2 central heat and air gas units, gas hot water heater, 5' x 22' front porch, concrete driveway, hardwood flooring in the living room and den area, tile in the bathrooms and kitchen, and carpet in the bedrooms.
The minimum bid is $140,000. Bids are to be mailed or delivered to the DeKalb County Board of Education,110 South Public Square, Smithville in a sealed envelope clearly marked as a "Bid" and will be received until 4:00 p.m. June 11th. The house can be viewed by appointment only. Call the Board of Education to request a viewing at 615-597-4084.
The sealed bids will be opened at the next school board meeting at 7:00 p.m. on June 11th.