Citizens Express Concern of School Funding at Macon Commissioners Meeting

By: Kristen Karcher

A large crowd of teachers, school board members and officials as well as concerned citizens gathered at the recent June 5th budget work session of the Macon County Board of Commissioners to hear the budget discussion between the Macon County School System and commissioners. Commissioners Ronnie Beale and Gary Shields, who serve as the education liaisons to the school system, presented their recommendation to the board to increase both the current expense and capital outlay funding for the school system’s 2018-2019 budget.

Beale and Shields are recommending a combined $750,000 in increases to the proposed county budget for the Macon County School System. Their recommendation includes an additional $500,000 in funding to the school’s system’s current expense budget and an additional $250,000 for safety and security capital outlay projects at Macon County Schools. The increase would eliminate the shortfall the school system would encounter in the recommended budget presented to commissioners on May 15th by County Manager Derek Roland.

The recommendation came after a joint meeting on May 23rd between the education liaisons, representatives from the Macon County Board of Education, staff finance directors, Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin and Roland at which the committee looked at the proposed school system’s budget line by line. Following the meeting, Baldwin came up with proposed areas in the budget that could be cut in the budget to make up for shortfall the school system is facing in the county’s proposed budget. To maintain the school system’s current level of service the school system needs $8.9 million in revenue instead of the $8.3 million in the proposed budget.

“I know that everyone in this room has a dire interest in education,” said Jim Tate, Chairman of the Macon County Board of Commissioners, as he welcomed the large group to the joint budget meeting. “We all want to see the best for our kids; there is no doubt we all want to see that that our children have the appropriate tools and facilities to be successful.”

“Our county budget is $49 million, I liken it to as tight as a banjo,” added Tate. “This addition that we are looking at is going to have to come out of fund balance; yes the county can afford it and can pull it out of fund balance, but it is not sustainable going on and on. We can’t keep paying out of fund balance, our piggy bank will disappear.”
“This board obviously wants to make it happen,” said Tate. “We have to come together as a board to make it happen, but I feel confident that this will go through.”

Tate invited all who would like to address the situation to attend tonight’s commissioner meeting at 6:00 p.m. in the commissioner’s board room. The county will also hold a public hearing in regard to the budget on Tuesday, June 19th at 6:00 p.m.