‘This was a surprise, to say the least’

The County School Board budget meeting halted Tuesday evening when they discovered they would need to revise their previously balanced budget at the last minute.

Brad Burke, while presenting the final budget amendments up for a vote that evening, announced a follow-up on the annual Basic Education Program.

The first estimate on the program’s cost came in between last Thursday’s meeting and Tuesday: $30,000,004.

“We might need to deduct funds in preparation for this increase,” Burke said.

This estimate threw a wrench in the school board’s announcement last week that their budget was officially balanced following Tuesday’s votes. With an unexpected $825,564 increase in their budget, the board said they needed additional time to figure out how to accommodate this.

“The second estimate might change,” Kelly Crain said, though he said it may go up or down. There was no way to be sure.

With this revelation, the board said they could not realistically approve any other budget amendments without figuring out the BEP question.

The board unanimously voted to delay all further budget amendment votes until a special budget meeting could be held.

This poses an additional problem, they said, because the board must present a balanced budget on April 29 for the Financial Management Committee to approve.

They set Thursday, April 25, as the date for a special budget workshop in order to address the addition and whatever second estimate they receive. The workshop will then flow immediately into an official budget meeting and final vote.

At the tail-end of the meeting, Superintendent Kevin Ward brought up the question of an RFP about school consolidation, mentioning the possibility of using grant money to fund it.

However, with no specific details on those possible grants and the rest of the budget needing revision before next Thursday, the board voted to table the RFP discussion indefinitely.

“I think we are premature on this,” Vice-Chairman Tony Garland said. “We should table this until we get more information.”

Only Danny Ward voted in opposition of the delay, and the board approved the motion.

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