Valdosta Daily Times

June 10, 2014

City BOE passes budget

Kristin Finney
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Valdosta City Schools passed its Fiscal Year 2015 budget Monday night without having to raise taxes or furloughing school employees.

Unanimously approved by the board, the budget has zero furlough days and no millage rate increase for the district. The total estimated revenues are $81,050,090 while the total estimated expenditures are $88,178,128. This puts the system $7,128,039 over on expenditures versus revenues, an expense which is being covered through the system’s fund balance.

More than half of the $7 million, $3.8 million, is in capital-fund projects. In 2012, the board took out bonds to cover these expenses, resulting in no deficit spending thanks to the money set aside for capital projects.

Bob Jones, the school system’s financial director, said, “We have a balanced budget and we still have money in the bank.”

As of July 1, the system has $23,242,902 in its fund balance, which according to the board is close to the state’s legal limit for the highest amount allowed. As of June 30, 2015, the fund balance will be $16,114,863.

The board approved several items during the meeting.

• The board unanimously approved the engagement of the Georgia School Boards Association’s strategic improvement plan. It also approved the Race to the Top Merit Bonus Pay, which is a three-tiered plan for issuing bonus pay for teachers and administrators meeting the top standards in implementation.

• Continuing work toward the completion of the new Valdosta High School, the board voted on a request for proposal for a construction manager calendar. The board will vote for a construction manager on Aug. 25, according to the calendar. All proposals are due by July 31.

• The board approved the continuation of the Valdosta/Lowndes Family Connection FY15 fiscal agent contract. All of the funds for this, $45,000, are supplied by the state.

• The final two items approved by the board were the purchase of a new 12-passenger school nutrition plan van and the request to move two buses to surplus. The board approved the purchase of a 2014 Ford E350 XLT Super Duty Wagon for $28,196 (with trade-in of the 2006 Caravan) from Langdale Ford. The two buses approved for change to surplus are a 1991 Bluebird bus with 171,988 miles and a 1996 International bus with 120,670 miles.

• The school board heard the first reading of Policies IFBG and JCDAF. IFBG focuses on acceptable Internet use. The policy changes stress cyber safety and the procedures for reporting abuse. It would change the length of storage time from system emails from seven years to 90 days. JCDAF focuses on the use of electronic devices by students. The policy changes discussed include a signed Bring Your Own Device agreement for a student to use a device on campus.

There were several concerns from the board about the legalities and legal ramifications of changing the email storage to such a short amount of time. The board will vote on this matter at a later meeting.

• In addition to hearing policy and financial business, the board heard several reports on student successes. The board reviewed the system’s CRCT scores as well as heard presentation from VHS’s AVID Program, all of which showed excellent numbers for the system.

• The meeting concluded with public participation from Karen Noll, a Valdosta system parent concerned about the Scintilla Charter Academy possibly coming to Valdosta. She shared several concerns including the Academy’s lack of transportation for students and its use of citizens’ tax dollars. She urged the board to reject the charter proposal.