Hoover superintendent: School system faces important decisions

Hoover City Schools revenue has not kept pace with increasing enrollment, which may necessitate cost-saving measures and/or additional sources of revenue in the near future.

HCS Superintendent Kathy Murphy delivered this message to the Board of Education as part of an in-depth financial presentation during a meeting Tuesday.

Murphy said the school system’s debts outweigh its cash and investments, the fund balance is similar to 10 years ago, and revenue per pupil has decreased as enrollment has increased.

It adds up to a situation where important decisions need to be made.

“I believe as public education goes, so goes this community,” Murphy said.

Board President Stephen Presley said officials have too often put off such decisions.

“I’m glad we’ve got some leadership that recognizes that needs to change for our children,” Presley said.

Of course, some points in Murphy’s slideshow presentation to the Board served to reinforce beliefs in the quality of the school system, including that employees are paid over the state’s minimum salary schedule, more positions than the state’s allocation are funded, and more than 17,000 technological devices are supported this year compared to 2,900 in 2008.

Earlier in the meeting, the Board approved resolutions for tax renewals that will be voted on by residents during the November General Election. Officials stressed the importance of the revenue and that it is an extension of current taxes and not new taxation.

Some other highlights from Murphy’s presentation:

•The school system has $119.9 million in total cash and investments, compared to $175.6 million in capital outlay and refinanced bonds.

•Fiscal Year 2015 revenue was $164 million, and there was an average of 13,892.4 children served. Expenses exceeded revenue by $1.39 million.

•A proposed sale of the old Berry High School could produce $11 million in revenue and savings of $90,000 a year in utilities costs (the sale has been approved by the Board but is pending).

•There are 36,977 homes in Hoover with another 7,191 expected to be built in the next 15-plus years.

Potential measures to reduce expenditures included:

•Decrease in personnel, decrease in supplements and stipends and decrease in discretionary funds.

•Elimination or modification of instructional programs.

•Elimination of second collaboration/planning periods at middle and high schools.

•Further consolidation of bus routes.

•Transitioning to a “bring-your-own-device” plan.

•Reducing travel costs, number of employees with school district phones, and length of contracts; increasing and enforcing facility use fees; implementing energy saving strategies; addressing students attending Hoover schools that do not live in the district.

The measures listed above were mentioned only as possibilities, and no recommendations were brought before the Board or voted on.