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School system facing tough decision

Posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Director of School Chad Moorehead asked the Metro School Board members to consider some tough budget cuts in Monday night’s regular session meeting … either cut much needed repairs to the high school floors or consider eliminating a teaching position in order to cut $45,000 from the proposed budget.

Fresh out of a Metro Council Budget Committee meeting, Director Moorehead explained that the Committee is asking the school system to operate under the same tax rate as the previous year – $1.09. The Metro School Board’s proposed 2012-13 budget asked for a tax rate of $1.11 – a two cent increase over the previous year.

Last year, Metro school operated within an estimated $2,020,638 budget. The Board asked for a 2012-13 budget of $2,224,541 – a $203,903 increase at the $1.11 tax rate.

Instead, the Metro Budget Committee instructed the school system to exist within a budget of $2,180,000 – creating essentially a $45,000 deficit from the proposed 2012-13 budget. However, this number still represents a $159,362 increase from the previous year.

When asked for recommendations for cuts by the Metro School Board, Moorehead mentioned postponing repairs to the MCHS floors (a $30,000 line item) or cutting a teaching position.

When asked about the consequences of both choices, Director Moorehead stated that without gradual repairs to the aging high school, Metro might eventually face a complete renovation much like the one that Lynchburg Elementary School required a few years ago for an $8.3 million price tag. He also stated that eliminating a teaching position would increase class size for some Moore County students.

In Monday night’s Budget Committee meeting, Budget Committee member Coleman March proposed to take .015 cents from the County General budget and a half cent from the Solid Waste Department budget to keep the Moore School System’s proposed budget intact. That budget amendment failed by a vote of two to two with Penny Smith and March voting for and Budget Committee Chairman Tommy Brown and Arvis Bobo voting against. Budget Committee member Gordon Millsaps was absent from the meeting.

Director Moorehead stated that he will continue to research budget reduction options for the Metro School Board to consider in order to get an approved budget in place by the state deadline.

The new budget number provided to the Metro School Board does not meet the three percent state fund balance test. The intention of that state law is to maintain a fund balance that would allow the school system to operate in an emergency situation.

The Metro Council meeting takes place on Monday, July 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Building off Highway 129. The school and other Metro budget will be discussed.