“Eventually, it is going to hurt,” Superintendent Jeff Wilson said.
With the system’s financial future a bit uncertain in four to five years, Floyd County Schools’ board members and administration looked at their options during their Saturday morning board work session.
For the next year or two the county school system will be okay, Wilson said. However, with the closing of Plant Hammond and a drop in enrollment, the system will see a financial loss in the next four to five years that needs to be dealt with.
“That’s why we are here,” he said.
“We don’t want to be reactive, we want to be proactive,” Board Member Melinda Strickland said.
The closing of Plant Hammond will have a $3 million impact on property taxes, Chief Financial Officer Greg Studdard said. Wilson said the system needs to put a facilities plan into place and look for ways to prepare for the loss of funding.
Some of the lost funding can be attributed to low student enrollment. The fact of the matter is there has been less births in the county, Wilson said, and with businesses like Hammond closing, there are not new families moving in.
“Without jobs its hard to get people to come live (in Floyd County),” he said.
Schools are funded based on full-time equivalency, or how many students are in school at the time the count is taken. Less students equals less funding, Wilson said.
The next step is to take this information to each of the Local School Governance Teams and ask them what they would like to see done. These options could be consolidating classes, schools or raising the millage.
“We are not going to them saying ‘this is what you are going to do,’ we want to ask them what they can live without,” Wilson said.
At the end of Fiscal Year 2019, the county school system dropped several positions in order to save money and trimmed $4.5 million from various sources from their FY 20 budget. Wilson and Studdard both emphasized during summer budget hearings that no one was fired from the cut positions, the positions were just not refilled.
Board members also looked at a running total of projects that need to be completed throughout the system and made plans to address those as well. Due to rising construction costs — which have affected both city and county school construction projects — the running cost of school projects has risen a little over $30 million.
As of right now, to finish every single project at all 18 schools would take around $82 million, Wilson said. Some of this is maintenance, but some is serious work that needs to be done. Garden Lakes Elementary has around $9 million worth of projects to be completed by itself, Wilson noted.
Architects will be going around to each of the schools to see what needs to be done first. The system will use what they find to tackle the facility projects. The county superintendent said no one is really to blame for the cost of the projects, but it is time to pay attention to these projects and get them out of the way.