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School Board Approves Revised 2014-15 General Fund Budget

By Bill ShortMillington Schools logo

Armed with more accurate projections regarding shared services, the Millington School Board unanimously approved a revised General Fund Budget last week for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Board members took the action during a May 21 special called meeting on a motion offered by Louise Kennon and seconded by Chuck Hurt Jr.
The revised General Fund Budget is $22,598,574. It must also be approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and included in the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
During discussion shortly before the vote, Dr. David Roper, superintendent of the municipal school system, said the revised estimated expenditures include a salary increase for an education assistant in the Alternative School from $18,130 to $23,975.
Roper noted that the original General Fund Budget, which the school board unanimously approved at a May 15 special called meeting, had “one half of a position” for a clerical employee in the Alternative School. But he believes that program needs a full-time teacher’s assistant instead.
In the Special Education Program, the revised budget lists a total of $256,918 in salaries for 11 education assistants.
Roper said that, in the original budget, a “clerical” item was moved from the regular Special Education Program to Special Education Support, where clerical employees are supposed to be listed. So, that decreased the total appropriation for the Special Education Program from $1,705,595 to $1,614,550.
The revised budget includes $2,800 for instructional material and supplies in the Vocational Education Program.
While three of the program’s 17 teachers are ROTC instructors, Roper said 14 are regular Career Technical Education employees. He noted that each of the 14 will be allocated $200 for “classroom purposes.”
In the Regular Instructional Support program, the original budget allocated $12,000 for contracts with other schools for planning. But that has been reduced to $9,902 in the revised budget, because Roper said he got a “more accurate figure” on that “shared service.”
He also said the appropriation for other contracted services was revised from $74,735 to $75,935 because of the increased cost of the Library Program.
In Special Education Support, $80,000 has been allocated for a school psychologist. Because that individual typically works with approximately four schools, Roper said he decided that the school system should have its own “in-house person.”
Although it will be considered a Central Office position, he said the employee might be “physically housed” in one of the schools. And he noted that the actual salary may be less than $80,000.
Another item allocated in Special Education Support is $88,924 for three clerical employees. And $80,000 has been added to contract with certified individuals who will provide physical and occupational therapy, as well as services for hearing- and vision-impaired students.
Roper said the $9,910 listed in Vocational Education Support is Millington’s portion of the shared service for Career Technical Education.
“We probably have a more highly developed and comprehensive CTE program at Millington Central High School than any of the other municipal districts,” he noted. “So, we want to get the very best, efficient and effective effort out of that program as well.”
In Fiscal Services, Roper said the amount appropriated for shared services for purchasing was increased from $58,900 to $66,922 because of the addition of payroll. But in Human Services, the amount allocated for shared services of benefits was decreased from $35,500 to $17,919 because of the removal of payroll.
In Technology, the appropriation for IT shared services was increased from $51,000 to $56,763. But Roper also cited several reductions.
The amount for other material and supplies was decreased from $21,200 to $10,000; in-service/staff development from $15,950 to $3,000; administrative equipment from $40,775 to $15,644; and regular instruction equipment from $123,999 to $25,623. That is an overall reduction within IT of $141,894.07.
Roper said the revised estimated revenue includes an increase in the Shelby County Local Option Sales Tax from $2,259,467 to $2,290,467. Board member Don Holsinger expressed concern about no capital outlay appropriation in the revised budget, as well as the absence of any Reserve funds.
Roper noted that, because of the “current situation,” he does not believe it would be “good practice” to have a budget with a built-in Reserve of “several hundred thousand dollars” at the end of the fiscal year. He said the “response” might then be that the school system does not need the entire $1.3 million generated by Millington’s Local Option Sales Tax.  While sharing Holsinger’s concern about the absence of capital outlay funds, Roper said he would rather do that than to “play fast and loose” with revenue figures.
“Our estimates of revenue are very conservative,” he acknowledged, “which is the approach I always take.”
The superintendent said that is especially the case with the county sales and property tax, which are both “driven” by student enrollment. He expressed hope that the school system’s enrollment will enable those two parts of county revenue to “come in a good bit above” what he is estimating.
“If they come in at a higher rate,” he concluded, “one of the first things we’re going to do is go back to our plan of across-the-board replacing of some teacher laptops. But we’d rather do it after the money starts flowing in than count on now, and it not be what we would anticipate.”

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