School Board Holds Opening Budget Work Session

Thursday, March 6, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

In a Hamilton County School Board budget work session, Superintendent Rick Smith said that in terms of payrolls, "We have budgeted well, we are fine." In a previous year, the Board had to borrow money toward the end of the year for the payroll.

They also discussed making their budget more transparent. Any expenditures placed under the miscellaneous category will also be detailed in an itemized list.

Director of Accounting and Budgeting Christie Jordan said, "We do try to hold people accountable. There has to be a purpose for every bit of money in this budget."

Another issue discussed by the Board was the student to teacher ratio at some of the schools. State law requires schools to maintain strict classroom size limits. If there are too many students in one classroom, the School Board will be fined $25,000 per classroom breaking the limit.

Superintendent Smith pointed out, "We're so tight in some places that one or two students can push us."

Board Member Jeffrey T. Wilson also voiced concerns about the way bond money was budgeted to be divided among the school districts.

Talking about the breakdown of allotted money over the past 12 years, he said, "When you look at the total allotment of bond revenue all the way from District 1, $32 million, District 2, $94 million, District 3, $25 million, District 4, $57 million...and then District 5, my district, $4 million."

He continued, "Something is wrong." He said taxpayers in District 5 had paid the same amount of taxes and their schools only received $4 million over the past 12 years from the bond fund.

He said, "You have to look at system-wide need."

The School Board will present their budget to the County Commission next Wednesday.

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