Incoming Madison County Superintendent has concerns over capital spending

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — The Madison County Board of Education approved the Fiscal 2015 budget Thursday night that shows spending $198 million.

The budget is tight with all but one of the 30  capital improvement projects currently on the list for the district funded- The new Monrovia High School.

Incoming superintendent Matt Massey will not take over until January 1, but he is sharing his concerns with how the board is choosing to spend the remaining capital improvement money.

“It is not going to get better in fact there are going to have to be tougher decisions that have to be made from there,” Massey told WHNT News 19 Thursday evening.

The soon to be superintendent says the district should take care of problems with buildings already in operation before tackling building a new school that wont be funded under current plans after it is built.

“The budget is lean now, I am really concerned with what it is going to look like in a couple of years with some of the projects we are working on now,” Massey added.

Karen O’Bannon is the chief financial officer for the Madison County School District. She says there are several factors behind the budget crunch, but all of them involve a lack in revenue.

“Every year, it seems to be a bit more challenging to prepare the budget, because as our needs continue to grow, we don’t have the revenues to keep up with those needs,” O’Bannon said. “This school district has not had a new revenue stream in, now, 28 years.”

Board member Dan Nash is frustrated with the choices the board is being forced to make due to the lack in revenue. Nash said the residents throughout the county need to do something to increase the district’s revenues.

“It’s not because of opening a new intermediate school that we’re struggling. We’re struggling because for 10 years, we have had inadequate funding,” Nash said.

Some of the budget problems are already being felt by students this year. The district  implemented a new staggered school schedule that includes double routes for the school buses. O’Bannon said the schedule saved $2.1 million by eliminating bus overcrowding without having to add 25 additional school buses to the fleet.

“We are definitely seeing the results of what six years of inadequate funding for transportation has forced us to do,” O’Bannon said.

The county schools’ sales tax rate is the lowest of the school districts in the area. Huntsville’s rate is 9 percent and Madison’s is 8 percent. The district’s 2015-2019 capital plan, which also contains another $77 million in unfunded projects, was approved by the board Thursday night.

The district will also have to rely on its $12 million in the bank for any repair work to the schools this coming year.

The transportation budget is $10.2 million with 80 percent of that going to salaries and benefits. Double busing helped the system save $2.1 million.

When presenting the annual budget for the school board to approve, Karen O’Bannian, Madison County Schools chief financial officer, said the double bus routes is an example of the unpopular decisions caused by lack of funding.

2015 Budget Breakdown

General expenses for instruction, administration and other general expenses comes to $148.3 million.

  • Instruction (74 percent), $109.4 million.
  • Operations/maintenance (8.9 percent), $13.3 million .
  • Transportation (6.9 percent), $10.3 million.
  • Administration (2.1 percent), $3.2 million.
  • Debt service (4.4 percent), $6.5 million.
  • Child nutrition program (3.1 percent), $4.7 million.
  • Preschool and other programs (.6 percent) $980,000.

4 comments

  • Mommy

    I think the Monrovia area should just leave the county system and create their own system. MCBOE always grips when they have to spend money on the Monrovia community due to growth; however, they have built a new Riverton Intermediate, Buckhorn Middle School, and Buckhorn High School. All of which are smaller than the Monrovia schools where there is no intermediate school. I never heard complaining when those schools were being built.

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