The Jackson-Madison County School Board officially approved Superintendent Marlon King’s proposed budget on Monday morning in a special-called meeting.
But before that meeting happened, King had multiple meetings with the Madison County Commission’s budget committee that progressed to a negotiation in a meeting on May 31, resulting in a motion approval that some say was premature.
King had sent a copy of his budget proposal to the committee members on May 19, letting them know about programs, initiatives and accomplishments he wanted to fund.
This came after members of the county commission had said in multiple meetings that they had no financial room to give more than maintenance of effort (MOE) – the amount the County is legally required to fund the school system based on funding from the year before – with Commission Chairman Gary Deaton and Commissioner Mike Taylor (neither of which are on budget committee but serve on financial management and capital committees) both specifically saying they couldn’t budget any money for education capital, which funds building improvements, equipment and transportation.
Commissioner Joey Hale, who is on the budget committee, discussed with King at the meeting last week about the most urgent needs for the district and what JMCSS could fund itself if all they got was MOE.
The two main line items that were discussed were $1.6 million King asked for to fund the replacement of roofs at four schools and $1.2 million he asked for to supply laptops for every teacher in the district.
After the committee said they couldn’t see funding $2.8 million for capital projects, they were willing to work with King on one project. Committee member Greg Parsons expressed his desire to help the teachers and pushed for the $1.2 million for laptops and made a motion to fund MOE, which is $48,035,000 and add in $1.2 million for education capital.
The motion passed.
“This was democracy at work as we sat down at a table, had some difficult discussions, but it was nothing that was too bad,” King said after the vote. “They had questions that they wanted answers for, and I was happy to provide those.”
The question about the premature motion came from Deaton, who was a part of the meeting as the Commission Chairman.
“The budget committee and this body – the County Commission – can’t officially vote on anything until we get an official request from the School Board,” Deaton said. “So I don’t see how that motion and vote meant anything without an official budget request from them.”
The budget request was sent to the committee right before their next meeting, which started 30 minutes after the school board meeting started Monday morning.
The Board approved the budget at 9:56 a.m. with the budget committee meeting starting at 10 a.m.
“I want to go ahead and e-mail this request to the budget committee before their meeting begins,” King jokingly said in the meeting after the vote.
Monday’s budget committee saw the committee go through all departments in the County and officially approve their budgets to go before the Commission this month. Not all budgets were immediately approved as their next meeting was scheduled for Wednesday to ask questions about specific line items in some budgets.
JMCSS’ budget was ultimately rejected in Wednesday’s meeting and sent back to the school board because a few items were missing including how JMCSS plans to play its annual Amaresco payment to the County.
Brandon Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org