Categorized | Education & Safety, News

School Board votes to seek additional $750,000 from city for its CIP Budget

By Bill Short

Millington Schools logoThe Millington School Board voted this week to request an additional $750,000 from the city to help finance the planned renovation of the Freshmen Academy.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Chuck Hurt Jr. and seconded by Cody Childress.
The motion was passed by five affirmative votes, with board Vice Chairman Greg Ritter dissenting and C. J. Haley absent.
Dr. David Roper, superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools, said the “proposed way that this funding request would flow” will require one amendment to the school system’s General Fund Budget and another to its Capital Improvements Program Budget.
He noted that $750,000 would be transferred from the General Fund Budget to the CIP Budget, which would also receive $750,000 from the city.
During discussion shortly before the vote, board Chairman Don Holsinger said those amounts were recently discussed at a meeting that “the city’s representatives” had with him, Roper and Bruce Rasmussen, supervisor of Financial Services for the school system.
Renovation of the Freshmen Academy is estimated to cost $1.5 million.
By identical 4-3 votes, the Board of Mayor of Aldermen approved the first and final readings of the city’s 2016 Budget Ordinance on June 9 and 15 with an $870,000 decrease in the school system’s initial $1.6 million funding request.
Holsinger said the $750,000 would be an addition to what the city has already given the board. That is $500,000, plus $233,000 to cover the payment to the Shelby County School System for Millington’s four school buildings.
Ritter offered a motion that was seconded by Larry Jackson to increase the $750,000 to $869,781. He said the board would not be “doing justice” to itself, its constituents or the system’s students if it requested less than that.
Because the $1.6 million was originally in the board’s General Fund Budget request, Ritter said it would have been available to spend however Roper “saw fit.”
“We know from our discussions that the majority of those funds were intended for renovation of the Freshmen Academy,” he noted. “However, we’ve changed that request to a CIP request, which restricts those funds where we can only spend it for that.”
But Holsinger said that, if the board increased the $750,000 request, he believes it would be “in jeopardy of receiving nothing.”
“If we want more, our alternative then would only be to go to litigation,” he said. “And I do not believe that any of us want to do that.”
Holsinger said the additional $750,000 would give the board $1.48 million, which is within $120,000 of its original request.
“Without that money, we would have to take the entire $1.5 million out of our General Fund,” he noted. “It would be used for the same purpose. So, by requesting this way, we are not changing the purpose that we’re going to use it for.”
Board member Louise Kennon said the school system is “probably the largest enterprise” in the city in number of employees, and its staff has done “an outstanding job of budgeting.”
“Almost everybody who works for this system wears three hats, not just one,” she noted. “I don’t think you can find a more dedicated group of people in this country.”
If the city wants to grow, Kennon said, it will fund the schools, because they will bring in new residents. And if the system is funded with revenue from the half-cent sales tax increase, she believes it will “do fine.”
“We can help with what the city needs,” she said. “But right now, we need to get that Freshmen Academy off the ground, so we can have a place for our students.”
Childress declared that this issue has divided the city “terribly” during the past several months. But he said the two sides have to “meet in the middle.”
He acknowledged that the board would like to have all the money it can get.
“But the city’s got to operate, too,” he noted. “I just think that everyone’s negotiating in good faith, and I’m going to put my eggs in that basket that we’re all on the same team here.”
Concurring with those comments, Hurt said he believes the board needs to put the issue “behind” it and “move forward.”
Ritter’s motion to increase the funding request failed for the lack of four votes, with Holsinger, Childress and Hurt dissenting.

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August 2015
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