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Board passes budget

By Greg Bird

In a short meeting Monday night the McCreary County Board of Education conducted routine business, including passing the working budget for the year. The Board had met twice over the past two weeks in special working sessions to discuss the budget, making Monday’s actions a routine matter as most issues had been worked out.
Vice Chair Debbie Gibson moderated the meeting via tele-conferencing due to her being out of town on the appointed meeting date and the absence of Board Chair Dustin Stephens due to an accident.
The main item on the agenda for the short meeting was the approval of the 2019-2020 working budget. The District typically begins budget preparations for the next school year in January and passes a draft budget. In May, a tentative budget is passed, but the actual budget cannot be approved until after the start of the school year and more concrete numbers for state and federal funding are available.
The General Fund, budgeted at about $24 million for the year, is the largest fund for the District. Other funds, such as food service, construction, debt service and various grant funds comprise the rest of the budget.
According to figures presented to the Board Monday salaries account for just over 58 percent of the General Fund, with the addition of taxes and benefits bringing that total to about 67 percent. The remainder of the General Fund allocations include just under 9-percent for administration salaries, about 8-percent for transportation and 7-percent for plant operations and maintenance.
The budget also includes financing to purchase four new school busses to replace older units in the fleet. For the past couple years the District has leased new busses, which adds about $50,000 in cost at the end of 10 years for each bus. This year the Board opted to purchase the new vehicles outright, saving the District about $200,000.
The budget is expected to finish out the year with about $3 million in reserve, but that total could be reduced by spending on special projects such as work on the school building’s infrastructure, as well as striping and sealing parking lots at school properties.
In other Board actions: the Board approved the latest pay application of $10,557 for the McCreary Central roof project, and created two special education teaching positions as well as the emergency certification of a librarian and FMD teacher at Pine Knot Intermediate.
Prior to the close of the meeting the Board opened the floor to public comments. Before taking comments, Board member Lori Foster addressed the Board, stating she felt limiting the public to time constraints for comments was detrimental to citizen participation in the meetings.
“I’d like the Board to remember why we are here,” Foster said. “We are elected to be here for the students and the parents. I’d like us to show a little patience. If they’re (the parents) are going to take the time to be here, we need to respect that.”
Foster’s comments come after Board Chair Dustin Stephens imposed a five-minute time limit on public comments at the last meeting. Foster stated she had heard from at least one person in attendance at the previous meeting who felt intimidated by the regulation.
The Board agreed with Foster and stated they felt they should allow citizens ample time to speak freely, but noted the need for some limitations to prevent the meeting from spiraling out of control.
The only comments were from Brian Kiser who had asked about the basketball program being held at the Lord’s Gym, and questioned if cheerleading would be added.
Board member Braxton King, who also operates the gym, said he anticipated cheerleading would be added. He also noted the program is held at no cost to the School District.
The next regular scheduled meeting of the Board of Education will be on Monday, October 28 at 6:30 p.m.

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