Hoover City Schools approves 2014 budget
By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer
HOOVER – After about an hour-and-a-half presentation and public hearing about the proposed 2013-2014 budget for Hoover City Schools, the Hoover City School Board approved the budget as it stands with an about $12 million deficit compared to projected revenues. The budget was approved by a unanimous vote.
At a public hearing and board meeting Sept. 10, the Hoover City School Board adopted a budget of $162 million for the 2014 fiscal year, while they are projecting to receive about $150 million in revenues.
The decision comes after several weeks of heated discussion about the school board’s decision to end bus services beginning in the fall of 2014. Several community members asked the school board to reconsider its decision at the Sept. 10 meeting, while superintendent Andy Craig assured those in attendance that the school board is looking into other revenue options as well as a third-party provider of bus services.
In a presentation made prior to the school board’s official meeting, chief financial officer Cathy Antee said the $150 million in projected revenues is down nearly $20 million from revenues of $170 million in 2008. Hoover City Schools saw an increase of enrollment by almost 1,500 students during that time, Antee said.
The concern, Antee said, is with cuts in state funding, which has caused the school board to dip into its general fund balance. At the current rate, Craig said it would be about two-and-half to three years before the fund would be used up.
Before approving the budget, board member Stephen Presley asked Craig, “Based on your comments a few minutes ago (about there being) another three years to a balanced budget … is there a particular reason that we did not start (making drastic cuts) this year? Should we not be looking at moving much more aggressively?”
Craig said that other revenue streams were currently being looked into, and that, in the future, he saw it as an “everything’s on the table approach” with regards to budget cuts.
Several parents expressed concerns about budgeted items, asking if they were all necessary for the upcoming school year.
When asked about a line item for a classroom renovation, Antee said, “The classroom renovation could be delayed.”
Pam McDougall, parent of a seventh grader at Simmons Middle School, responded with a question: How much does that renovation cost?
“It’s a $2.5 million classroom renovation,” Antee said.
“Isn’t that what we need to fund the buses?” McDougall responded.
Previously, Craig had said he expects the school system to be able to save approximately $2.5 million annually by eliminating transportation services.
“That’s a one-time, non-recurring expenditure,” he said, referring to the classroom renovation.
Trisha Crain, Hoover resident, asked the school board to be leaders.
“You can bet that if Hoover gets permission to (eliminate bus services), other school districts will not be far behind,” Crain said. “You are leading the way. The actions that you take from here on out, however far you push this pay-for-service model, will undoubtedly impact the most fragile and needy of Alabama’s children. Please don’t shift this cost. There are adjustments that you can make. Lead the way. Be the model.”
The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be Monday, Oct. 7 at 5:30 p.m.
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