Cleveland City School Officials Decline To Put $1 Million In Fund Balance Toward Gym Project; May Cut Scope Of Facility Instead

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - by Tony Eubank
Board members Richard Shaw and George Meacham
Board members Richard Shaw and George Meacham
- photo by Tony Eubank

Cleveland City School officials, in a special session on Monday, declined to put $1 million n fund balance toward the project to replace the Cleveland High School gymnasium. Instead, there was discussion of cutting $1 million from the scope of the project.

The Cleveland City Council had agreed to fund the bulk of the emergency project, but requested that $1 million from the school system’s fund balance be used to pay part of the cost. 

 The Cleveland City School Board voted to approve a letter of response that reads in part as follows, “It is with great enthusiasm that we, the Cleveland City Schools Board of Education Members and Director of Schools, thank you for your recent support of Cleveland City Schools. The vote for the new gymnasium complex was both needed and warranted. We have received hundreds of congratulatory comments, and the city residents seem pleased with this decision to build a facility for the future. This facility will serve the city of Cleveland as a community center as well as a gymnasium for Cleveland High School and numerous other organizations. We are proud that you, as council members, stood fast in the face of adversity and made a decision that was best for the students and future residents of Cleveland. We cannot ignore some of the comments made in the Cleveland City Council Meeting on Monday, April 14, 2014. The call for the Cleveland City Schools Board of Education to use $1,000,000 of our fund balance simply cannot happen. Our fund balance is used to cover months when tax money hasn't come in yet from the City of Cleveland and Bradley County. We hover just above tine 3% Fund Balance required by the state. The Cleveland City Schools Board of Education is blessed to have the half cent sales tax funds which we have used with great success. This revenue is our only source for capital projects. This revenue source was passed with the promise that it would not be used for major capital projects.”

Cleveland City Schools Director Dr. Martin Ringstaff said, “We would not have the cash flow to run the school system through the school year if we were to take $1 million out of our fund balance.”

Dr. Ringstaff said that in conversation with the architect, he had learned that there are ways to reduce the cost of the project, “What I would recommend to the board is capping the project at $11 million instead of $12 million, and that would be the one million that they’re requesting. We give it to them by not taking it rather than writing them a check,” said Dr. Ringstaff.

Richard Shaw asked what the contingency would be should the project go over budget, or if there is only one contractor bidding for the job. Dr. Ringstaff said that the $11 million cost includes a $500,000 contingency, a guaranteed maximum price, and that the final cost of the project could actually be much less that the guaranteed maximum.

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