Ward says falling revenues will require county to boost its share

Published 9:25 am Friday, May 16, 2014

Items on the Carter County Board of Education’s table Thursday weren’t routine meeting fodder: telemedicine clinics, budget shortfalls and a proposed new middle school in the Stoney Creek community.
Director of Schools Kevin Ward told the board that in past years the school system has been able to present a balanced budget without asking for an increase in funding from the County Commission, but that this year revenues are down.
“Sales tax revenue is down,” Ward said. “That basically results in a collection shortage of $98,431.”
Ward said the decline in revenue would cause the system to not be able to meet the maintenance of effort in funding required by the state unless additional funds are channeled into the school system by the county.
Ward said the maintenance of effort – or MOE – requirement set forth by the state sets a minimum funding level per pupil within the system. In Carter County the local portion of the per pupil rate is $1,879 per year for the MOE funding requirement.
Ward told the board he would ask the county for an increase in funding to cover the loss of revenue in the school system’s proposed budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Ward also talked about the proposed purchase of land and construction of a new middle school in the Stoney Creek community.
The Education Committee of the Carter County Commission recently discussed the property and proposed school project and also visited a site. At that time core samples had not been taken from the soil to determine if the property was suitable for the construction of a school.
“We have been given a verbal OK on the soil bores but we have nothing in writing yet,” Ward said Thursday.
Ward asked the board for approval to request that the Budget Committee of the County Commission approve the purchase of the land and advancement of the construction project pending the receipt of a written report on the core samples. The board unanimously approved a motion allowing Ward to make that request to the Budget Committee.
Before the start of the meeting, board members and several school system employees met in a workshop to discuss the implementation of a new telemedicine system that would provide on-site care for children and staff members in the school in an effort to not only improve health but to save on missed days as well.
Tony Shipley, a representative of the company currently in talks with the school system to provide the service, gave a presentation on how a telemedicine system could benefit the school system by creating a “virtual doctor’s office” through the use of the internet to link school nurses with a nurse practitioner who could diagnose illnesses and provide prescriptions. Shipley said not only would this program allow many children to be treated and remain at school for simple conditions which they must now be sent home for, he said this program would be at no cost to the Carter County School System at all, because the program is self-sustaining.
For more on the telemedicine system and its proposed use in the school system, read the Sunday edition of the Elizabethton Star.

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