SCBOE discusses budget proposal, construction projects

Published 9:31 pm Thursday, August 15, 2013

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – The Shelby County Board of Education heard updates about the school system’s proposed 2013-2014 budget and ongoing construction project during its Aug. 15 meeting.

The proposed 2013-2014 fiscal year budget projects expenditures of $242 million and revenues of $226 million. The school system is projected to begin the fiscal year with approximately $60 million fund balance and end the school year with $44 million fund balance.

Assistant Superintendent of Finance Gary McCombs reviewed the General Fund and Special Revenue Fund budgets during the meeting. He said employee salaries and benefits make up about 79 percent of those budgets.

McCombs said the school system will likely see a decrease in ad valorem tax revenue because of the creation of Alabaster City Schools. Tax revenue collected from Alabaster residents will be used to fund the city’s school system.

‘Ad valorem taxes are probably going to slightly decrease because of the separation,” he said. “We planned for that and feel we accounted for that for this 2014 year.”

McCombs said the proposed budget “presents a very positive force for the future.”

He said the budget allows the school system to invest in technology, maintenance and building upgrades – all areas that saw cutbacks during the last several years because of proration and a weak economy.

“We’re investing in excess of probably $2 million in technology,” he said. “We’re investing in upgrading our operations.”

Facilities and Maintenance Coordinator Randy Reeves reported on some of those building upgrades during the meeting.

While a number of the system’s 35 schools were upgraded over the summer, four schools – Wilsonville Elementary, Mt Laurel Elementary, Montevallo Elementary and Montevallo High – had major construction.

Reeves said construction is ongoing at those schools, but they will be ready to open to students on Monday.

“We will be ready to start school on Monday. We still have work to do,” Reeves said.

Wilsonville Elementary students will be able to use the new computer lab when school starts on Monday. Ongoing construction includes the art, music and media centers, which are scheduled to be complete in mid- to late September. The gymnasium is expected to be complete in mid-September to late October.

Mt Laurel Elementary’s construction is mostly complete, and teachers began moving into the new addition this week.

Montevallo High is also close to complete, but Montevallo Elementary, which Reeves said was the most “extensive” project, still has work to be done over the weekend.

Reeves said the school was approved from a “life/safety standpoint” by the Alabama Building Commission this week.

However, the inspector is going to return on Saturday afternoon to review progress made on the construction.

Reeves said work will continue over the weekend at Montevallo Elementary, including cleaning the building and waxing floors.

Reeves also reported that Forest Oaks Elementary and Helena High continue to see consistent progress and are scheduled to be complete in mid- to late fall depending on the weather.

Superintendent Randy Fuller said a decision has not been made as to when Forest Oaks will open to students.

“We’ll have to make that decision when we get closer (to its completion),” he said.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Aug. 28 at noon at the Shelby County Instructional Services Center in Alabaster.