School board tentatively approves proposed budget

Matthew Strother

May 16, 2014

The Board of Education tentatively adopted a budget of $94,652,383 in projected revenue and $95,410,075 in projected expenses for fiscal year 2015, the first step before the board is expected to officially approve a budget in June.

The budget projects $1,821,883 less in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year over the projected amount for this year. State funding sources are projected to see a net drop of $3,407,145 over last year, despite state efforts to inject more funding into local education through austerity cut reductions.

The school system also is planning on $1,064,193 less in expenses for the upcoming fiscal year. The Board of Education last month approved a plan to reduce 29.5 positions as part of $1.7 million in cuts for next year. School system staff said those eliminated positions should mostly come from attrition - retirements, transfers and resignations.

School System CFO Byron Jones said during Monday’s caucus meeting that the budgeted expenses still include pay step increases for all eligible teachers, two leave without pay days for teachers and five leave without pay days for central office employees. It also includes a Teacher Retirement System of Georgia retirement contribution match increase for teachers.

In total, the school system is looking at a $757,692 shortfall between revenue and expenses, which will be pulled from the school system’s reserve funds, expected to reduce the reserve from $11,581,486 to $10,823,794.

Jones said there is currently no property tax millage increase proposed in the budget, but the board will have to discuss that next month. He also noted the numbers of the currently proposed budget may change as “the variables have to shake out” over the next month.

In another matter, the board approved the overall budget for the new Ethel W. Kight Elementary School project and authorized the superintendent and board chair to execute/sign all contracts and purchase orders related to it. Board member Ashley Adams was the sole opposing vote on the matter, saying after the meeting that board members did not receive a bid tab showing what subcontractors had bid to work under construction manager at-risk Freeman Construction, and also questioning how many local companies were able to bid. She said she had asked about the bids, but was told the architect didn’t have to provide it.

John Radcliffe, assistant superintendent of maintenance and operations, said the bid package, which he had with him at the meeting, was available for any of the board members to inspect had they requested it from him, but none did. He said that Freeman wasn’t required to give the bid package to the school system, but the company still opted to provide it. Since Freeman was chosen as an at-risk contractor, it receives the bids for work from all subcontractors, which work for the company, not the school system, Radcliffe said.

Radcliffe noted several local subcontractors on the summary, but said the school system opts to go with the best qualified contractor with the best price. He also said he or another school system representative were present during subcontractor decisions.

The total construction budget is $15,469,625, which includes the contract with Freeman Construction at $14,280,865 and also includes demolition of Old Tatum facility on Roanoke Road and the three buildings located at the Old Hope Academy - former Center School - on West Point Road; it also includes an owner budget for the school system to complete items like carpet, playgrounds, food service equipment, furniture, technology and labor for final cleaning and moving all items in the amount of $1,188,760.

Also Thursday, the board approved:

• A federally-mandated increase of 10 cents for meals in food service. Elementary prices will be $2.20, middle an high school prices will be $2.45 and adult prices for faculty, staff and visitors will be $3.50. The price increase is estimated to be an additional $18 per student annually.

• Purchase orders with G & K Services for uniform services: $8,500 for the Transportation Department, $10,000 for the Maintenance Department, $3,800 for the Technology Department, $11,000 for the Custodial Services.

• A fourth renewal for its contract for food services with company Sodexo, which will be for the fifth and last year of the original contract. Radcliffe said the school system and Sodexo will renegotiate a new contract next year.

• Purchase orders of $64,800 to Diane Mitchell and $34,000 to Judith Brown for interpreting services for Aug. 8, 2014, to May 21, 2015.

• A purchase order of $60,000 to Connie Toney for the yearly contracted physical therapy services for Aug. 7, 2014, to May 22, 2015.

• A purchase order of $88,228 for the annual license agreement and seat maintenance for Infinite Campus from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015.

• A purchase order of $50,000 for the yearly contract to Troup County Board of Commissioners for the services of a resource officer at Callaway High School for fiscal year 2015.

• A Mauldin & Jenkins CPA, LLC, to perform the fiscal year 14 financial audit and SPLOST III performance review at a cost of $46,000.

• A purchase order of $68,039.75 to North Georgia Tire for auto/truck/bus new and recap tires from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015.

• A purchase order of $1,033,815.92 to Hawkins Oil Company for its bid to be fuel provider to the school system from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015.

• A purchase order to BB&T Insurance Services of $73,432 to provide Athletic Medical Insurance for fiscal year 2015 and approved rates for Athletic Medical Insurance, which will remain unchanged from the current year.