Hale details school district’s needs

Marshall County School District Superintendent Lela Hale reported to the board of supervisors recently on the district’s finances and needs.

Supervisor George Zinn III kicked off the discussion by saying Hale had expressed needs of the district and state funds to schools have been cut. He said he heard the school district has an excess of $6 million in reserve and asked for an explanation.

“We don’t have $6 million,” Hale said. “We started out in August with $3.2 million in the budget.”

The monthly payroll is about $1.6 million, she said.

The $1.1 million from the state and revenue from county taxes is what the district operates on, Hale said.

The district has cut out positions and pared down the number of substitute teachers, and it cut janitorial supplies by about $9,000 from July to October over what was spent last year.

State statutes require the school to have about $800,000 in its reserve balance, she said.

The district has attempted to make the budget balance by selling old equipment and cutting back travel. The district is looking to purchase a vehicle for travel in order to not have to pay the mileage when a person uses his or her own vehicle. There is no Rainy Day Fund.

So the $3.2 million fund balance was what the district had on June 30 to start the new fiscal year. It is not a reserve or rainy day fund, the superintendent said.

Supervisor Charles Terry asked if the school district budgets to have a surplus at the end of the year (June 30) to start off the next year.

“Yes,” Hale said. “But there is no budget for roof repairs and the repairs for damages from leaks.”

The district holds out a pool of about 7 percent or about $800,000 in the fund as a reserve, something the state requires to keep on a separate ledger but that money was included in the $3.2 million carry-over, she said.

“Then, there is no tapping into the money for roof repairs and buses?” Zinn asked. “It’s not there.”

Penni Robinson explained that the $700,000 is a line item in the school district’s regular budget. The state does not allow the district to spend it, she said.

“I do trust the school system with you guys in there,” said supervisor Keith Taylor.

“And I also know that they (the people) want transparency,” Hale said. “If I have a need, I will ask. You can turn me down, but I will ask.”

Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas asked whether the school district could buy some new buses.

Hale said she wants to get purchases done before Janu­ary 1, 2018, prior to purchasing going on a state bid system (as opposed to local bids).

Terry asked about the $225,000 for roof repairs and the $75,000 cost of a bus.

“I would love 10 new buses,” said Hale. “But we will do what we can.”

Eighteen buses in the fleet are 20 years old or greater.

“The drive is one and a half to two hours one way for some kids,” Hale said. “That’s close to four hours. I want our children to be safe. We bought used buses, but some didn’t have heaters in them (ones from Florida).”

Hale said she prefers to purchase what the district needs up front than buy used buses, some which come from up north where salt is used on the roads.

“When you see me purchasing a couple of vehicles, just know we have sold some excess equipment,” Hale said.

“I certainly believe you are cost conscious and also that you are concerned about the welfare and safety of the kids,” Zinn said.

Holly Springs South Reporter

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