BOE’s budget rejected

Budget Committee nixes plan asking for $821,000

In what is shaping up to be a tight budget year for Anderson County Government, the Anderson County Board of Education received its bad news Thursday night.

With Director of Schools Dr. Tim Parrott arriving late to Thursday night’s board meeting — he was presenting the school system’s budget to the Anderson County Budget Committee across the street at the Anderson County Courthouse — he informed the board that its budget had been rejected.

Parrott said the Budget Committee said to bring back a balanced budget — the system’s proposed 2019-2020 budget is about $821,000 out of balance.

The school system was asking for an additional eight-cents — funds earmarked for capital outlay projects and in part to fund a 2-percent raise for teachers.

The system has a little more than $500,000 in Basic Education Program (BEP) funds earmarked for salary increases for teachers. The Board of Education needs to fund a little more than that to accomplish 2-percent raises. And that is with eight staff positions already cut from the proposed 2019-2020 budget.

The rejection of the board’s proposed budget did not sit well — especially IF the county Budget Committee’s approved eight-cent increase for the Anderson County Detention Center and a firm stand that county employees receive a 1.5 or 2-percent increase (excluding School System employees), is passed by the full County Commission.

And that is what Parrott said the Budget Committee has intentions of passing on to the full County Commission for approval.

“We cut $700,000 out of this budget (presented to the county’s Budget Committee Thursday night) to get where we are now.

“This is going to hurt,” Parrott said of any further cuts.

Capital improvements that could be impacted are completion of the gymnasium at Grand Oaks Elementary School; paving at Dutch Valley Elementary School; renovations at Anderson County High School; and repairing the cafeteria roof at Andersonville Elementary School.

Parrott said the system has already lost cafeteria supplies — food— because of the leak in the roof at Andersonville Elementary School.

He also noted that three years ago the county agreed to fund $450,000 a year for capital outlay projects. Parrott said the county funded year one, then told the school system they should fund the next two years — which it did — taking $900,000 out of its coffers that was expected to be available and no longer was.

“Closing a school,” board member Dail Cantrell suggested about making up the difference.

“Did you say, ‘Close a school,?” Glenda Langenberg said.

“Yeah, close a school,” Cantrell confirmed.

“We could get rid of arts, music … Things that make us a great school system,” Parrott said.

“We have to look at all options before closing down a school, cutting personnel, or shutting down programs … That’s a step backward,” Chairman of the Board Dr. John Burrell said.

“We could fund the shortfall out of our undesignated fund balance, but then we’d be back where we were five years ago.”

Board member Andy McKamey made a motion — which was passed unanimously — to have Parrott rework the school systems’ budget to meet the requirements called for by the Budget Committee (cut $821,000), but leave in the 2-percent pay increase for teachers.

“We’ve been very nice and not kicked up any sand over there,” McKamey said. “We need to go over there and tell them we intend to give our people a raise.”

Parrott said he didn’t think other departments in the county appreciate the unique situation the school system is in. “They don’t have the staff or the buildings we have,” Parrott said.

He also pointed out that school systems surrounding Anderson County’s are approving raises for staff — anywhere from 2.5-percent to 4-percent — and warned that formula is a good way for Anderson County to “start losing good teachers.”

“It’s not a dead issue over there,” McKamey said. “It’s sad to hear you’re not as important as the jail or the ambulance service.”

The Anderson County Board of Education suspended its meeting until 6 p.m. Thursday, May 16, when they will resume and Parrott will present another budget for the board’s consideration.