By James Knipple
EDITOR’S NOTE: James Knipple is a Millington resident who examined the SES feasibility study numbers. Knipple was once financial manager for the city of Millington. Knipple is releasing to the public his findings and assumptions from reviewing the SES study.
To anyone interested in analyzing this spreadsheet…
First of all, I want to say that I am not opposed to Millington having its own school district. This statement is based upon the fact that we can actually afford it without bankrupting the city.
I have used the basic figures from the study conducted by the Southern Educational Strategies, an organization that does feasibility studies of this nature.
I encourage anyone to check my numbers. I admit that my knowledge of school finances is very limited. I question some of my own assumptions. I want to be fair in this situation but I also wan to make sure of what the future looks like for the city, should the referendum pass in July.
The spreadsheet expands the SES numbers for 10 years. It is easy to say we can afford a school district if you only look at the numbers in the study. What happens several years down the road is critical to thorough evaluation. If the original numbers do not stand up, we must consider the consequences.
My assumptions are as follows:
1. I have assumed that revenues will increase overall at 1 percent per year.
2. I have assumed that salaries and fringe benefits directly associated with salaries will increase at 1.5 percent. These fringe benefits are Social Security and Medicare.
3. Since the city is in the state retirement system (TCRS) I have made some assumptions of my own. Since a new school district joins TCRS, the state must charge a higher rate until the school district accumulates some equity in the system. The city currently pays 8.06 percent based on salaries. I have assumed that a new organization will be required to pay more. I have used 11 percent for teachers and 7.5 percent for classified employees.
4. I have assumed that insurance will increase at a rate of its own. We all know that health costs have increased more than normal for the past number of years.
5. I have assumed that Operations and Maintenance will increase on an average of 1 percent per year.
6. I have made no assumptions regarding Capital items and transportation since SES did not provide any information in these two areas. I have noticed that the study provides for 9 bus drivers so I assume we would operate nine bus routes. I do not know what a new school bus costs but I am sure they are expensive. When I do not see any numbers in the study in this area, it will only make the numbers worse.
7. I have read in the news media where the county had plans to replace some school. This convinces me that some of the facilities are not in the best of condition and we would have to replace some of them. There area no numbers in the study for this area either. If/when Millington has to replace buildings, this will certainly have a very negative on these numbers.
8. Please note the projected annual deficits at the bottom of page 19 and the property tax increases it will take to fund these deficits.
Again I say, please double check my numbers for errors or miscalculations. Prove me wrong to a point that more accurate numbers will prove that Millington can actually afford its own school district.
Early Voting is June 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and July 8-11 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Baker Community Center at 7942 Church St. in Millington. Election Day is July 16.