School board OKs $2.3 million budget request

Published 8:09 am Tuesday, February 24, 2015

During its first budget workshop of the year Monday, the Elizabethton Board of Education unanimously approved a $2.3 million request to the city of Elizabethton for the upcoming fiscal year.

During the workshop, Interim Superintendent Corey Gardenhour noted the budget request did not include any requests for operating budget increases in light of the $5 million bond the system received for capital improvements. The city has allocated $2.3 million to the school system each year since 2001-02.

Each year, the school system receives an allocation from the city for a portion of the school system’s operating cost. The remaining portions of the budget will come from state and federal funding.

The school system once again asked for the revenue from the school’s capital outlay bonds to be committed to the school system through the life of the bonds until 2034, Gardenhour said.

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Board member Tyler Fleming asked Gardenhour whether he felt comfortable the system could operate on the same funding allocation from the city that has remained flat for years.

“We have had a lot of flat funding years,” Gardenhour said. “If the city said they wanted to help us out, we would certainly entertain that. We feel it is currently the most beneficial to the school system to continue request the funding from the bond proceeds.”

Before the school board meeting, the board held its first budget workshop. School principals and administrators had submitted their requests to the school board for consideration before the meeting.

Each request was considered, Gardenhour said, before it was decided how the request would be handled. Some requests were included in the upcoming fiscal year, while others were postponed to a later date.

“We compiled a list and looked at what was on tap for the schools over the next five years,” Gardenhour said. “We made the decisions conservatively because we need to be cautious with our funding for this next budget year.”

Two requested items from Elizabethton High School were considered priority items for the 2015-2016 budget. These were three additional security cameras, at a cost of $2,000 and two additional radios for $600.

Three requests were added to the summer maintenance schedule: $25,000 to replace carpet with tile at Harold McCormick Elementary, $5,000 for tile installation at West Side Elementary and $2,000 for a shed-style roof outside the cardio room at T.A. Dugger Junior High School.

The school board plans to address other projects later, including adding parking spaces at East Side Elementary in 2017-18 plan, building four new classrooms at Harold McCormick and purchasing new cafeteria tables and seating for Elizabethton High School in 2018-19 and replacing windows at Harold McCormick in 2019-20.

Assistant Superintendent Richard VanHuss briefly discussed the school’s capital five-year plan. He said the goal was to have a set schedule in the plan for recurring items, along with the major capital projects. This would include items like computers, energy upgrades and school buses.

Board member Susan Peters asked what would happen to older computers that were taken out of use during upgrades.

If the computer still had use, VanHuss said it would be put to work in another part of the school system until it was no longer functioning.

Peters also questioned why a heating system upgrade was listed at Harold McCormick Elementary before the window replacement project.

“Switching out the windows would result in an energy savings, so why would that not be done before?” she asked.

VanHuss told Peters the school had encapsulated asbestos in various areas of the building, including the caulking around the windows. He said the material was not a danger to people in the building because it had been encapsulated. Starting a project in the areas where it was located would mean all the asbestos would have to removed, which would come at a high construction cost.

“An in-depth study needs to be done on Harold McCormick to see what is the best plan for the school and how we can best do this,” VanHuss said.

The board will have its next budget meeting at 5:30 p.m. March 19.