After some debate, county school board OKs 2015-16 budget

Published 9:36 am Friday, June 19, 2015

After some debate, members of the Carter County Board of Education approved the school system’s budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
The school system’s budget was presented to the Budget Committee of the Carter County Commission and was given approval by that group. The budget must now undergo a public hearing and be presented to the full Commission for approval. Before the Commission can approve it however, the Board of Education must approve the budget accepted by the Budget Committee.
Board member Kelly Crain made a motion to approve the entire school system budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year including the budgets for federal programs such as Head Start and Food Services. However, some members took exception to approving the budgets in one lump.
“I think we should vote on Head Start and Food Service separately, “ Board member David Buck said.
The motion to approve the entire budget failed on a tie vote of 4-4, with Crain and Board members Rusty Barnett, Steve Hyder and Tony Garland voting in favor of approval. Buck and Board members Craig Davis, Ronnie McAmis and Ladonna Stout Boone voted against approving the budget.
After the attempt to pass the total budget failed, the Board then divided the budget into the separate funds for approval. The General Purpose School Fund was approved without dissent, but board members once again split 4-4 when the Head Start budget came up as Hyder, Garland, Crain and Barnett voted to approve the fund’s budget and Boone, Buck, Davis and McAmis opposed.
The failure to approve the Head Start budget prompted a response from Carter County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach.
“I have to have a budget to present to the Commission at the July meeting,” she said. “If we don’t pass it tonight, we will have to have a special called meeting to approve a budget before that meeting.”
If the budget is not approved in time, it could cause problems with the school system preparing for the start of a new school year in August, Director of Schools Kevin Ward told Board members.
After several seconds of silence and no discussion on the Head Start budget, Crain asked his fellow Board members to speak up and talk about whatever questions they had regarding the budget.
Boone and Buck both discussed the transfer of the previous Head Start supervisor Mike Miller to the position of Elementary Supervisor and the appointment of Dan Winters as the new supervisor for Head Start as well as the salary changes to the positions because of the transfer. Board members also questioned whether there would be a loss of personnel to account for the change in salaries.
“There will be no positions lost because of a higher salary moving into Head Start and a lower salary moving into Elementary,” Ward said.
Supervisor salaries are set by a state formula that takes into account the person’s degrees, experience and years of service with the system, Ward said.
“I would like to ask this Board to approve this budget and let us move forward so we can start school in August,” Ward said.
One a second vote, the Head Start budget was approved unanimously.
Members of the Board also questioned some expenses in the Food Services program, mainly an increase in the budget for the director’s salary.
Current Director of Food Services Marissa Potter will be leaving the position in December, Ward said. The current budget reflects six months worth of salary for Potter plus a year’s salary for her replacement. This will allow Potter time to train her replacement in the operation of the school system’s food program, the federal guidelines for the Community Eligibility Program and will also allow her to help the new director through a federal audit scheduled for October.
Buck asked whether the school system had any figures in to show whether the school system’s participating in the CEP federal meals program had cost the school system money or if it had made money.
The final numbers have not been calculated, Ward said, but early indications show the program was a success.
“The CEP was successful in that we fed all the elementary students free breakfast and free lunch,” Ward said. “If this is a break even program, and I’m not saying it is, but if this is a break even program it is worth it to feed the children of Carter County.”
On a vote, the Board approved the Food Services budget on a split vote of 6-2 with Davis and Buck casting the dissenting votes.
In other business, the Board tabled a contract with eMD to provide telemedicine clinics for the school system until the contract could be researched further. Davis said he has questions regarding whether or not the program could be used to generate revenue for the schools.
The board also approved a bid for the construction of a new greenhouse at Cloudland High School.

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