Shelby County BOE approves $281.6 million budget

Board also hears from Chelsea High principal about athletic facilities proposal

By KATIE MCDOWELL / Lifestyles Editor

The Shelby County Board of Education approved an approximately $281.6 million budget for fiscal year 2012 during its Sept. 15 board meeting.

Gary McCombs, assistant superintendent of finance, said the budget was “conservative,” and he felt that it would meet the needs of the school system.

“I think the whole Shelby County School System emphasizes quality instruction and I feel like we will continue to do that even during economic times that are challenging,” he said.

The board oversees 38 school sites within the county. Student enrollment for the 2011-2012 year is at 28,171 students and the school system employs 3,523 staff.

The three largest schools in the county are Oak Mountain High School with 1,683 students, Pelham High School with 1,672 students and Thompson High School with 1,769 students. Each of the schools has a budget of more than $11 million.

In other business, the board also heard a proposal from Chelsea High School principal Jay Peoples to secure a $300,000 loan to improve the school’s athletic facilities.

Peoples said the school has had “explosive growth” in recent years, increasing from 730 students to more than 1,000.

“Let me assure you we’re not talking about wants, we’re talking about needs,” he said. “We’ve got pressing needs for every sport.”

Peoples said the school can secure a $300,000 loan with a fixed interest rate of 4.69 percent over 15 years.

CHS has also received donations from various groups, including $25,000 in local money, $15,000 from the City of Chelsea and a $50,000 matching grant from Shelby County Commission.

Peoples said the loan would be paid with $100 annual donations from student-athlete families. He said the school used annual donations from student-athlete families to pay off a 2001 loan for an athletics facilities upgrade and the process worked well.

“I assure you nobody is going to be excluded based on an inability, or even an unwillingness, to pay,” he said.

Peoples hopes the money will be used to make a variety of improvements to the school’s athletic facilities, including a small locker room and additional restroom facility at the far end of the complex, covered dugouts and additional practice field for soccer, covered hitting facilities for softball and baseball, floor refurbishing and PA upgrade for the gymnasium and new mats for the wrestling team.

The board will discuss the proposal before voting on it at a future meeting.

The board will have a called meeting Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. at central office in Columbiana. Its next regular meeting is Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.