Schools budget another step closer to approval

Friday, July 25, 2014

By Karen Hall


"The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the proposed budget for the Marshall County school system," said Chairman Rocky Bowden at the start of the county commission's education committee meeting Tuesday.

"We're not asking for an increase in maintenance of effort," explained Director of Schools Jackie Abernathy. "We will maintain a 6 percent fund balance, which is double what the state requires. We've budgeted a 2 percent raise for everyone, across the board. There's a lot of money for roofs in this budget; the longer we wait, the more it's going to cost."

"What increase are you asking for over last year?" asked Bowden.

"Nothing," replied School Budget Director Janet Wiles, who explained that while expenditures were greater, Basic Education Program funding from the state had also increased.

"Without going over it with a fine-tooth comb, it looks like a really good budget to me," Bowden said.

"I have a really good Budget Director," exclaimed Abernathy. "We would appreciate it if you will recommend it to the full commission. Are we anywhere near having a county budget?"

"He's still telling me August," replied assistant budget director Heidi McElhaney, referring to the state employee who has been helping her do the budget director's job since Catherine Brooks resigned last month.

There were no further questions, and education committee members unanimously approved the 2014-2015 school budget as presented.

They also unanimously approved the Food Service budget.

"They're still maintaining a really healthy fund balance," said Wiles.

"They've got to be self sufficient," added Wiles, and now, thanks to their fund balance, the food service department can take care of themselves buying equipment.

"We really do appreciate everything you do," said Abernathy to education committee members. "The first full day of school is Aug. 8, and the first half day is Aug. 6."

Thus, as requested by the Election Commission, the schools will be empty on election day (except for teachers having a professional development day), when Cornersville Elementary and Westhills are used as polling places.

"On behalf of the county commission and myself, I want school board members to know we appreciate the time and effort they put in on this budget," said Bowden, and the meeting was adjourned.