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By Christa Jennings
Senior staff writer
During its regular monthly meeting last Thursday evening, the Board of Education also held its first budget hearing for the 2022 fiscal year.
For the first time in many years, the presented budget shows positive ending fund balance. However, appearances are likely deceiving in that regard.
Amy Davis, chief school financial officer, made the budget presentation and explained to the board and attendees, “The budget presented shows a positive ending fund balance for the general fund. However, I still expect the general fund to have a deficit at the end of September 30, 2022.”
Davis further explained, “This is based on the fact that the funds we received for COVID-19 relief (ESSER II and ESSER III) had to be fully budgeted even though they will be spent over the next two and three years. Therefore, the indirect cost revenue that has been budgeted to be received by the general fund will not all be recognized in the fiscal year 2022.”
Currently, the proposed budget indicates a beginning fund balance for October 1 as a negative $242,376.45. The projected ending fund balance for September 30, 2022, is $24,393.24.
As has been stated every year for the past several years, Davis also reported that the board will not have a reserve to meet the one-month operating balance required by the School Fiscal Accountability Act. However, she said the board continues to be diligent in monitoring all expenditures.
Davis also explained that the state allocated certified units for the year are 52.86, which is a decrease of 0.72 from last year.
Those allocations are determined by the average daily membership, or ADM, for the 20 days of school following Labor Day in the prior school year. Coosa County’s school system’s ADM decreased by 12.3.
“Normally this would have resulted in a loss of 0.72 units; however, due to the pandemic the State Department of Education has allocated additional stabilization funds to each school district that may have lost certified units based on the ADM for one year only,” Davis said.
Following the presentation and budget hearing, Board President Tiffany McCain asked for any public comments regarding the budget, but there were none.
The budget is available for review in the board room at the central office in Rockford. Any questions or comments should be made in writing on the response forms available at the office.
The final budget hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 9.
In other business during last week’s meeting, the board reviewed a resolution regarding a change order for emergency tornado and storm damage repairs to certain school facilities.
In part, the resolution reads, “Whereas, extraordinary circumstances justify the Coosa County Board of Education change order for $216,131.12 on an original contract sum of $260,149.00 for the emergency tornado and storm damage repairs to various facilities; whereas, the facts are as outlined below, the changes are, in fact, necessary for the proper completion of the project, the project is to be covered by the state insurance fund, and the circumstances are extraordinary and justify a change order.”
The resolution further reads that the board is in the process of making emergency repairs to the school facilities as a result of tornado and storm damage. In that process, “additional damage requiring immediate action has been discovered by the contractor, Williford Orman Construction LLC., that was not in the original scope of work.”
The noted additional repairs involve damage that could not have been discovered until the contractor began work and uncovered the hidden damage.
As such, a contract change order was prepared for the “newly discovered damage that requires immediate action.”
The contract calls for repairs to the softball field, football field, baseball field, storage trailer, screens, 4-H Center, student resource officer building, and the band room. The cost of those changes is $216,131.12.
It was further stated in the resolution that this was deemed an emergency and that the additional repairs be made because “the facilities cannot safely withstand storm pressure in their current state.” Additionally, “the additional repairs are a matter of public health and safety and one of great public concern.”
Board attorney Mark Boardman and architect Lee Bryant made a presentation to the board regarding the resolution. Bryant, who has 40 years of experience in the construction business, told the board that the repairs necessitated by the change order could not have been anticipated and cited examples of how no one was able to tell the additional repairs were needed when the initial project bids were taken.
During the presentation Bryant also reviewed reasons why the board needed to use a change order rather than rebid the process. He recommended that the board adopt a change order rather than rebid for the additional work to be done.
Boardman advised the board of the law regarding change orders, and he also recommended the change order rather than rebidding.
Following the presentation and review, the board unanimously approved and adopted the resolution for the change order.
In other business, the board:
- Unanimously approved the renewal of ATBE General Liability/Errors and Omissions Coverage at the rate of $388, effective October 1, 2021, to October 1, 2022.
- Unanimously approved a supplemental work contract with 6-hour lunchroom worker Samantha Hamilton for two extra hours per day for the 2021-2022 school year, effective August 12, with funds from the Child Nutrition Program.
- Approved a Teacher Excellence and Accountability for Mathematics and Science, or TEAMS, contract with Alicia Thompson, effective August 1, 2021, through July 31, 2022, in accordance with Alabama Act 2021-340. Board President McCain recused herself from voting on that matter, and the item was approved by the remaining three board members, with Board Member Gay Adams absent from the meeting.
- Unanimously approved leasing a new copier for the board office from Berney Office Solutions at $174.46 minimum payment per month.
- Unanimously approved parent transportation contracts for transporting their children to and from the bus stop for the 2021-2022 school year. Those included Shannon Newman for $8 per day because of a weight-limit bridge, Charles Taylor for $2.50 per day because of a railroad crossing, Shirley Ogle for $10 per day for transport to the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB) bus stop, and Suzanne or Darryl Meadows for $10 per day for transport to the AIDB bus stop.
Also during the meeting, Superintendent of Education David Stover explained to the board that there were numerous options for utilizing the former Career and Technical Center property. Some of those options include the Sheriff’s Office, Health Department and bus shop.
Regarding the illegal passing of school bus stop signs, Stover stated that efforts were being made to educate the public on this matter with an article in the newspaper, as well as placement of road signage and possible criminal prosecution.
The Board of Education will hold a called meeting at 5:30 p.m. September 9 for the second budget hearing. The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. September 23.