Hawkins County BOE trying to determine amount needed to balance budget for next school year

Jeff Bobo • May 26, 2013 at 9:39 PM

ROGERSVILLE — It may be a foregone conclusion that Hawkins County Schools will be using savings to balance the proposed 2013-14 fiscal year budget, but exactly how much savings is yet to be determined.

Hawkins County Schools is projected to end the 2013-14 fiscal year with $9 million in savings.

School systems are required by the state to maintain a fund balance no less than 3 percent of the overall budget, which in the case of the Hawkins County Schools proposed $53.4 million budget is $1.6 million.

The bare-bones proposal presented to the Hawkins County Board of Education during Thursday’s workshop would require $1.895 million out of savings to balance the budget.

That includes the state-mandated 1.5 percent teacher pay increase that will cost Hawkins County Schools $203,000.

But that excludes pay increases for school bus drivers totaling $103,000; increased pay for coaches that will cost $75,000; a $19,000 increase for physical therapists; and a new salary scale for non-certified employees that costs $7,000.

The budget proposal also excludes the estimated $750,000 that would be required to pay for putting a Hawkins County deputy in every school in the system.

Those funds will only be included in the budget if they are contributed by the county commission.

Another major cut to the proposed budget is to capital outlay spending, which was whittled from $500,000 to $100,000 for start-up projects.

The BOE has established a priority list of needed capital outlay projects, some of which address school security.

County schools Finance Director Myron Dale told the BOE that those projects would have to be dealt with individually as budget amendments with funds from the undesignated fund balance as they arise.

Another issue discussed at Thursday’s workshop was the need to get bus drivers enrolled in the school health insurance plan in their first year of service.

Bus drivers are currently five-hour-per-week employees and as such, are not eligible for health insurance benefits until their second year. But due to new federal regulations the school system must provide health insurance to 95 percent of its employees by 2014 or face a $2,000 penalty per employee.

In order to do that, Dale proposed to increase bus drivers to six-hour-per-day employees, which would allow them to be insured their first year with the school system. Dale said that would amount to 180 hours per employee over the 36-week school year.

Overall the plan would cost the school system $80,000.

The next BOE budget workshop is scheduled for Thursday evening at 6 p.m.

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