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Germantown school board approves first reading of tight $60.8M budget

By Updated: April 23, 2019 10:20 AM CT | Published: April 22, 2019 10:16 PM CT

Germantown Municipal School District board members approved a $60.8 million budget for the 2020 fiscal year on the first of three readings Monday evening, with Superintendent Jason Manuel calling the spending plan a "status quo" budget.

“This was not a fun budget year,” board member Amy Eoff said of the lean spending plan, which must receive final school board approval by the start of the new fiscal year July 1. The city's Board of Mayor and Aldermen also must approve it.

The proposal calls for $13.2 million in capital improvements, mainly at over-capacity Houston Middle School. The city is paying for $5, and the district is paying $3 million for the Houston Middle project, which had an original cost estimate of $5 million that grew to at least $8 million.

The district looked at $15 million worth of projects, but the funds are not available this year and the Houston project was the most pressing. 

The city will pay an additional $700,000 for the district's projects. The district took $3.87 from its reserves to balance the capital outlay total, Manuel said.

As for county money that might be able to help with capital improvement work, Manuel said it's not clear what the district might get.

“We don’t get a dime of that (county money) until Shelby County (Schools) takes the draw of their portion,” Manuel said, adding that the unknown county funding makes budgeting difficult. 

The Houston Middle expansion will include hallways, a secured entrance, another gym and a fine arts wing.

State money and county taxes will fund more than 88 percent of the budget. The state’s funding increased 3 percent from $28.1 million to $28.7 million. The majority of the state’s increased funding for Germantown comes from Basic Education Program funds. The district is expected to receive about $28.5 million, an increase of $615,000 from the 2019 budget.

County property taxes, sales tax and the district’s average daily attendance will contribute to an increase in county funds. Last year, the county gave the district nearly $23.93 million. This year, it expects more than $24.9 million.

Manuel pointed out that since Shelby County Schools students would be eligible for educational savings accounts under the state's new voucher plan working through the Legislature, future amounts the district gets from the County Commission could be affected.

The budget shows any Germantown tax increase would not be for education. The city's contribution will remain at nearly $2.5 million. The amount makes up 4.1% of the budget.

The district also had to budget for opening a new school, Forest Hill Elementary. The board is looking at $2.2 million in operating costs at the school, an expenditure that Manuel said the district will have to budget for each year going forward.

The district also cut $1.4 million in proposed spending. Reductions or payoffs will include:

  • A $296,000 technology loan from the city will be paid off in June.
  • A $380,000 cut in technology needs for the district's 1-to-1 initiative, which supplies every student with an electronic device.
  • A $250,000 reduction in supplies for the new Forest Hill Elementary.
  • Elimination of $117,000 in leasing costs, though the district will have a mortgage on the new district building.
  • A cut of $114,000 in supplies and equipment as part of the technology budget.
  • A reduction of $96,000 in equipment as part of the regular education support budget.

“Every department sacrificed, and no one walked away a winner,” board chair Rebecca Luter added. “I know in the future we will be hoping for more. … There are possibilities we haven’t even thought of for our students. In the future, we will work towards that.”

Topics

Germantown Germantown Municipal School District Amy Eoff Rebecca Luter Jason Manuel Forest Hill Elementary Budget Capital Improvements
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a May 2018 graduate of the University of Memphis.  She has worked for several local publications and has covered Germantown since May 2018.


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