HomeNewsJMCSS to ask County for help in funding for coming year

JMCSS to ask County for help in funding for coming year

Marlon King is approaching his three-year anniversary leading the Jackson-Madison County Schools System.

As the Madison County Commission’s budget committee has gone through budget hearings for the past few weeks and prepares the proposed budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year to be approved by the Commission by the end of June, King has repeated a fact a number of times.

“We’ve never asked the County to fund anything for us in three years.”

JMCSS has been able to fund pay raises, bonuses, program expansions and perks for the district staff with either ESSER funds or through money saved because of expenditures ESSER dollars were used to pay for in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The district has also received private contributions over the past three years, totaling more than $20,000 in 2020-21, $40,000 in 21-22 and a near at least $150,000 this year after a successful JMCSS Gala in April.

“When I came on board, I told my team that businesses were out there wanting to help us, so I said we were going to go ask for that help,” King said. “And this community – these businesses – they’re telling us they like what they’re seeing from us and they want to help.”

But as the JMCSS Board is set to hear King’s budget proposal later this month in a special called meeting with a work session scheduled for Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., his run of being able to keep from asking the County for funds will come to an end.

He discussed what his requests will be for while meeting with the education vision committee Tuesday evening ahead of Thursday’s regular monthly school board meeting.

The main things he requested money for were $1.5 million for a few additional buses to the district fleet, $1.5 million for new roofs at five schools, an agreement that would allow JMCSS to not pay Ameresco payments for past capital projects and return $416,900 to the JMCSS maintenance of effort that was taken out for enrollment losses in 2020.

“That’s never happened before,” King said about the MOE reduction. “And that was three years ago, so that’s $1.2 million that we’d been getting before then that we haven’t been getting, but we’ve still managed to stay within our budget.

“So as we’re taking on these other projects within our existing budget, we’re asking the County to take care of these items.”

King outlined a number of things JMCSS will fund that is new this year:

  • 90 percent of insurance costs for single employees and 80% for employees on a family plan
  • Bumping starting salaries up to $46,000 per year
  • W.E.C.A.R.E. employee wellness program that will give the employees a total of $600 to take part in three different methods of self-care such as weight management, financial management training, chiropractor visits and massages then an added bonus of $800 for anyone who completes their plan
  • Funding all academic expenditures including $1.7 million for new math curriculum
  • A list of eight other capital projects the district can take care of including Hub City Central (new football stadium and renovating Oman Arena, new water line at Community Montessori and the Malesus Innovation STEM Center

King outlined the reasoning for each of these items, saying the increase salary and benefit payments will not only help retain current employees but also attract more for any open positions the district still has.

The W.E.C.A.R.E. program is to make sure the employees are taking care of.

“Because we’ve started taking care of our employees with raises and bonuses, and we’re seeing our testing scores increase,” King said. “So we want to make sure our teachers are taken care of so they can come in and do their jobs of educating our students to the best of their ability.

“A lot of people think improved scores will come with a new curriculum, but there’s no magic bullet. It’s not programs, it’s people. And this is us taking care of our people who take care of our students.”

King will take the budget before the JMCSS Board at a special called meeting to be officially called within the next few weeks after Tuesday’s work session. If approved by the Board, it will then go to the County Commission to be approved within the County’s budget.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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