Huntsville City School budget shortfall becomes district 4 school board campaign issue

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Candidates for Huntsville City municipal elections have one more weekend to convince voters they are the person for the office they're seeking.  The District 4 seat is the only contested race in the school board races.

Current Huntsville City School Board member Walker McGinnis is facing Ryan Renaud. McGinnis points to his experience serving as a board member, while Renaud says he will bring innovative and new ideas to the Huntsville Board of Education.

The election comes just two and a half weeks after the announcement that the Huntsville City School district is facing a major budget shortfall. McGinnis and Renaud say balancing the budget is a top priority. Both men say they were shocked to learn how little money the district had in the bank.

"How could you misplace $5.5 million?" McGinnis said. "How did that happen? The first question in my mind ... is what happened? I don't know exactly what happened. I will as the days go by."

"There's been some irresponsible spending," Renaud said. "There's been some uncollected revenue streams. So in regards to how we fix it, that's a much more detailed discussion, and it's one that the board has to come together on."

McGinnis said the school finance department did not give the school board enough information about the financial situation for the board to make informed decisions. However, Renaud believes both the finance department and school board share the blame for the finances getting to where they are.

Both candidates tell WHNT News 19 solutions won't come easily.

"Look and see where exactly are we at," McGinnis said. "That's what I want to know. I feel uncomfortable even thinking about next years budget without getting this one straight."

Renaud says that there are a few areas the board must look into.

"I think you've got to address the lack of incoming revenue," he said. "One of my goals as a potential board member is to bring out innovative and creative ideas to increase our revenue streams."

The two are hoping voters will trust them and let them represent their communities on the school board.

"Look at my past record," McGinnis said. "Look at things I've voted for... fought for. That's sort of thing. If I say I'm going to do something, I do it. Like the teacher salary thing, I'm not going to give that up."

"I'm passionate about education, specifically public education," Renaud said. "I'm a product of the public education system here in Huntsville. I plan on raising my children in Huntsville city schools."

Huntsville's municipal election is Tuesday, Aug. 28.