HomeBusinessJMCSS pushing for foundation funding from Madison Co.

JMCSS pushing for foundation funding from Madison Co.

As the Education Foundation begins to make a return to activity with a new board, questions have been asked in recent months about the funding for it.

The Education Foundation fund is a 501c3 fund that’s part of the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation.

There was an effort to revive it in 2017 and ’18, but that revival was short-lived because it essentially ended when the board president at the time, Scott Conger, was elected Mayor of Jackson.

Jackson-Madison County Schools, the City of Jackson and Madison County each re-appointed three members each to the nine-member board this year to restart the foundation and try to build funds up for it.

Public funds are sent to the foundation if Jackson and Madison County get to $12 million of revenue in a fiscal year. After $12 million is reached, every dollar after that up to the $13 million mark is given to the Education Foundation, split evenly between City and County.

Current EF President Tina Mercer went over the funds with the JMCSS Board at their retreat on Dec. 10. The current balance is $1,524, 756.41.

In the years since 2018, the EF was set to receive no money in 2018, $176,000 in ’19, $145,218 in ’20 and the maximum of $500,000 each in ’21 and ‘22.

The EF has received its money for ’21 from both the City and County. The City has paid its $500,000 for 2022, but the County hasn’t. Neither municipality has paid its allotment for ’20 because, according to Mercer, the City is ready to pay its allotment, which has it figured according to its external auditors at a little more than $145,000.

The County says its math says they owe about $20,000 less at $125,000. According to Mercer, the City is waiting to hear what the County’s audit, which is done by the state, concludes with and will pay the equal amount.

But a point of contention is the $500,000 the County hasn’t paid for 2022. Since the County funds JMCSS, the County has asked JMCSS to pay the money out of its own fund balance, which is at $18.7 million.

But JMCSS Superintendent Marlon King asked the board members for their input because he feels it’s time for the County to help out in the partnership.

“I think about every way we’ve helped the County out by paying for things out of our own budget over the past two years with ESSER funds,” King said, referring to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds that have been given to school districts across the country as they’ve dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The education capital budget is typically between $8-10 million for the County that JMCSS hasn’t used except for $1.2 million for new buses and $600,000 for metal detectors in reaction to gun violence in schools in recent years.

King mentioned multiple schools across the county that have leaky roofs that JMCSS has dealt with with its own money along with renovations at Malesus that normally would’ve come from County budget that JMCSS has taken care of itself.

“And on top of that, we’ve funded $6.2 million in bonuses and raises for our teachers and staff when the County is funding raises for every department in the County except Jackson-Madison County Schools even though our teachers are part of the County too,” King said. “So simply because we’ve been wise in our spending and built up our savings, they are now asking us to dip into our own savings and fund our own Education Foundation that they were supposed to fund and didn’t.

“And if they’d said on the front end that they’re sending us this money but we need to hold on to it for the foundation, I would’ve been OK with it. But we’ve done the budget and into the year, and now they want to put this $500,000 price tag on us just because they know we have it.”

King told the Board if they’re OK with taking that money out of their own fund balance, they’d handle that in the board meeting the following week, which it was not addressed.

King plans to have discussions with the board members about what they think in proceeding or waiting for the County to put the $500,000 into the foundation fund itself.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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