Berry classroom addition among projects addressed by HCS $205 million budget

HOOVER – The Hoover Board of Education approved a budget for the new fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 with about $15 million more in expenses than revenue that will allow the system to address some needed capital projects.

The budget as proposed by Superintendent Kathy Murphy was approved unanimously by the Board at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 10, following public hearings on Sept. 5 and earlier on Sept. 10.

The capital projects include an $8-million 18-classroom addition to Berry Middle School, along with smaller projects such as a renovation of the Old Bluff Park School, architectural design for a district fine arts initiative, window replacements, HVAC controls upgrade, partial re-roofing of Hoover High School, painting projects, paving projects, flooring projects and more.

The capital projects total $19,072,500.

The budget calls for a total of about $189.4 million in revenues and $205.2 in expenditures.

HCS will draw from its fund balance to balance the budget.

With a projected fund balance at the end of the current fiscal year of about $103.5 million, the fund balance would be about $88.5 million at the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The budgeting process begins in the spring with school and department staff meetings, and then each principal meets with a team of district administrators to determine staffing for the upcoming school year.

Staffing is generally completed by late-April, and accordingly about 85 percent of the General Fund budget is determined at this time.

Principals and district administrators submit a budget for non-payroll expenditures for their respective departments, and budgets for federal programs are completed during the summer as funding information becomes available.

The budget accounted for developments such as a decrease in earned units due to a decrease in enrollment across the system, decrease in funding due to a decrease in participants in the free and reduced lunch program, state-mandated 4-percent pay raise for employees and an increase in principal debt payment.

Assumptions include a projected ad valorem tax receipts increase, projected motor vehicle tax receipts increase, steady sales tax receipts and a $5 million appropriation as promised by the city of Hoover.

Concerns include declining enrollment, decreasing special education funding, maintenance cost increases and decrease in Title 1 funding.

Looking ahead, the school system identified priorities including discouraging unfunded mandates from the state Legislature, focusing on mental health, reviewing a sustainable staffing model, reviewing building capacity, encouraging a 2.4-mill property tax increase, encouraging submission of the free and reduced lunch application for all eligible students and seeking grant opportunities.