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JMCSS budget rejected by County Commission

For the third time this month, the Jackson-Madison County School Board is tasked with approving a budget for the district.

The board sent one to the Madison County Commission budget committee on June 5, and it was rejected two days later.

They voted again on June 15 on the same budget with a couple of small tweaks, one being placing the district’s annual Amaresco payment in another line item, and that one was rejected by the full Commission by a vote of 17-8.

In the totality of the JMCSS budget that’s near $130 million, the point of contention doesn’t appear to be a significant deal.

On May 31, JMCSS Superintendent Marlon King and the budget committee agreed to he’d submit a budget asking for the County’s maintenance of effort (MOE) at a little more than $48 million and $1.2 in education capital to purchase laptops for every teacher in the district.

The following day when the capital committee met, committee member Mike Taylor (Republican-District 10) brought up how King said at the April County Commission meeting that school safety is his top priority.

“The state is giving $30,000 per school for a school resource officer in each school,” Taylor said about his reasoning.

He made the motion in capital on June 1 to recommend the County take back the education capital money and send money to the separate budget for SROs – which is neither in the JMCSS or Sheriff’s Office budget.

“The state is giving $30,000 to each school for SROs, but that’s not enough even for a salary, but there are other expenses too,” Taylor said Tuesday after the Commission meeting to explain the reasoning behind the motion in capital. “We’re matching that and putting $30,000 more toward each school to pay the SRO and also pay for equipment, uniform, cars and everything else they need.”

Taylor said earlier during the meeting that he sees the move is necessary.

“We’re averaging a shooting a week in Jackson it seems like,” Taylor said. “And if that keeps up, I’m afraid of that eventually making it into our schools, and we need to do everything we can to ensure that doesn’t happen.

“Putting an SRO in every school would be a big help in doing that.”

The money would fund an SRO in all 26 JMCSS schools and two SROs each at the four largest high schools – Jackson Central-Merry, Liberty Tech, North Side and South Side.

Not everyone was in favor of the move.

Claudell Brown (Democrat- 5) said the move was one the Commission shouldn’t take in telling the school system how to spend its money.

“All we do is send money to the school system, and it’s up to them to decide how to spend it,” Brown told the Commission. “We’ve got a Superintendent in Dr. King is who is doing a fabulous job in leading this district, and I think we as a Commission need to stay out of his and the school board’s way and let them do their job.”

William Martin (D-1) echoed Brown’s sentiment.

“We need to stay in our lane and let the school board stay in theirs,” Martin said. “This is us getting out of our lane.”

Tony Black (D-2) was adamant in his defense of the school system and King.

“Public education has been a catalyst that’s moved people to different levels of society than where they started,” Black said. “And it’s our job to fund it.

“It appears there’s something else going on here, and JMCSS needs our support with additional funding.”

After the vote, Brown asked County Attorney Jay Bush what the process looks like now that the Commission has rejected the JMCSS budget a second time.

Here are the main details:

The Commission’s official deadline to have a budget complete is June 30.

The school board has called a special meeting for June 22 at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the budget one more time.

Once they approve a budget, they will send it back to the Commission for the June 30 meeting.

If the Commission were to reject the third version of the budget, they would then do a continuance of the entire county budget, which is continuing to operate on the budget from the fiscal year ending on June 30.

That means no raises or other new expenditures that were approved by the budget committee for any department would take effect until the school board and commission can agree on a budget.

They have two months to agree on a budget. If they don’t agree on a budget by Aug. 31, then they would automatically revert to MOE, which is the required minimum the County is obligated to fund its part of the JMCSS budget.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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