Schools focus on new budget

Friday, July 16, 2010

Marshall County Schools' budget for the upcoming school year was approved, then changed several times, in the course of a two-day school board meeting.

The board met Monday, and recessed until Tuesday evening when a vote was taken and budget committee chairwoman Kristen Gold carried the budget to a meeting of the county commission's education committee. However, no action could be taken because that committee did not have a quorum.

Starting at the July board meeting Monday night, the budget was unanimously approved. Then it was amended to include the purchase price of a new car for schools director Roy Dukes. His ride is to be a $13,088 Ford Focus.

"To me that's good," Dukes said. "That's what I want: a new car."

It was only after this that the board refused to approve Dukes' organizational chart with two deputy directors. The solution they found, when the meeting re-convened Tuesday, was to add an assistant director to the budget at $83,000 per year.

The question of who is going to pay for the School Resource Officer at Lewisburg Middle School remained unanswered. Dukes reported Chief Deputy Billy Lamb told him the total cost could be $65,000 per year, including a vehicle, gun, and uniform for the deputy taking on the role of SRO.

"It's a little high, but that's what it would take," Dukes said.

There is already $37,000 in the budget for an SRO, and no one thought LMS could do without one. Federal projects supervisor Linda Williams-Lee said she could apply for a grant that would cover $24,000 of the additional cost.

"We're hoping the county will pick up the rest," Gold said to commission Chairman Billy Spivey while waiting for other education committee members to arrive.

"You're not asking for any more than maintenance of effort?" Spivey asked.

"Right," Gold said. "It still leaves us with five percent fund balance."

"If you're under maintenance of effort and within the state-mandated fund balance, I'm OK with how you spend your money," said county Commissioner Rocky Bowden.

He's a member of the commission's education committee.

"It doesn't appear we can accomplish anything," Spivey said, after waiting a while for the other members. "Can you send it to me electronically?"

Gold agreed to e-mail copies of the budget to committee members in time for them to study before a meeting now scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 19.

The education committee's chairman is Larry McKnight, who was out of town. Member Don Ledford was at a work-related meeting in Nashville, and Jimmy Stitt was at a Lewisburg city council meeting. McKnight was under the impression that the school board would not have a budget ready for his committee on Tuesday, and Stitt chose the city's meeting because "I just wanted to go."