Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

October 10, 2013

BOE eyes potential budget cuts

'Worst case' scenario looks at $2.1M in cuts

CROSSVILLE — Members of the Cumberland County Board of Education experienced a bit of sticker shock Saturday as they looked over a list of possible budget reductions for $2.1 million.

"We've never spent all of our budget," said Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative. "We usually have a healthy fund balance. Do you really think we'll need to cut $2.1 million from the budget?"

Bob Scarbrough, chief financial officer, explained the amount was based on the current budget, the projected ending fund balance and the required minimum fund balance reserve.

"We're spending our fund balance down to the minimum so we've asked for ideas for possible budget cuts," Scarbrough said. "This year, we're spending about $3 million out of the fund balance."

The projected ending fund balance is $2.4 million, with the school system required to keep $1.5 million in reserves. The figure for projected cuts does not take into account any new funds, such as increases in state Basic Education Program funds or an increase in local funding requirements, both of which have increased in recent years. The state will provide early estimates in January, though final funding numbers are sometimes not received until July each year.

Director of Schools Donald Andrews agreed it was unlikely the board would be faced with making such drastic cuts, which included the possibility of cutting art, music and Career and Technical Education classes at the elementary level, cutting elementary athletics, closing the Phoenix School, and contracting for maintenance, custodial and transportation services.

"I over do projections, just to protect us," Andrews said. "We put anything and everything on the table. I won't be offended if you say something shouldn't be on the table, but it's our responsibility to be sure we put it all out there."

Schlafer said, "You see a list like this published, there's going to be an awful lot of angst."

Susan Huneycutt, assistant director of human resources and administration, said, "This is the worst thing. It's a huge cut and it would take something pretty drastic. You want to think about the least drastic of the cuts you could make. There's no way we are going to close the Phoenix School. There's no way I would support cutting art and music. And we can't academically go back to a traditional school schedule [instead of block scheduling]."

But the answer to such a budget shortfall, if it should happen, could be to ask for an increase in funding.

Charles Tollett, 1st District representative, said, "We've received a lot compliments on being miserly, economical, in our operations. But at some point, we have to realize our business is not to save money but to invest it wisely. Fortunately, we have that opportunity in education. The future of this county is very closely tied with what we choose to do with the public education funds in this county.

"We may be close to a time when we need to move forward the issue that we need some more money," he added.

There are also possible budget savings, including the savings from not paying for the school resource officer program next year, at a cost of about $233,000. Other possible savings areas are implementing an energy savings program through Cinergistic, projected at about $175,000 the first year; and the Tennessee Valley Authority and Volunteer Energy program to reduce energy demand at schools, with a possibility of saving $65,000 a year on electricity.

The Cinergistic energy savings program works with Cinergistic to look for ways to modify behavior to save energy without adding new equipment. Over ten years, the company believes it can save the school system a total of $6.1 million, though net savings would be $4.4 million.

The company would hire an energy specialist, funded through the monthly fee paid to the company from energy savings, a fee of $21,600 each month, for five years. After the five years, the school system would keep all of the energy savings, though it would also take on the cost of the energy specialist.

Those projected savings are on top of savings projected by TRANE, which has a guaranteed savings energy project in place in Cumberland County Schools that included centralized control of HVAC systems, new lighting and new windows in some schools. Cinergistic guarantees the savings.

Other looming decisions for the board include development of a differentiated pay scale for teachers. Beginning next year, the state will require each school system to develop a plan that does not provide across-the-board pay increases based solely on years of experience or advanced educational degrees. Instead, local boards of education can choose to make those pay increases based on additional roles or responsibilities, attracting teachers to hard-to-staff subjects or schools or based on student performance.

Schalfer said, "I would hope we would only consider additional pay for additional roles and responsibilities."

There will also be changes coming with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, especially when some employees work for the school system solely to obtain access to the health care benefits offered. Those employees could find suitable coverage, at cheaper cost, on the federal insurance exchange.

Individuals who already have health coverage through an employer plan may qualify to purchase insurance on the exchange if the employee cost share is more than 9.5 percent of take home income for the employee portion only.

"Some employees work just for the benefits," Scarbrough said. "They may decide they don't need to work for the benefits any more."

Huneycutt added another area of concern is substitute teachers and tracking hours worked to keep them below 30 hours a week — above which benefits may need to be offered.

"We're looking at a software program to track how much they work," she said.

School system employees meet with representatives of various benefit programs starting next week, Huneycutt explained, as the system enters its open enrollment period.

"We're trying to have our people prepared when they meet with the reps," she said, adding information on benefits was included in all paychecks at the end of September.

Text Only
Area News
  • 1899: Evidence points to poison in mysterious deaths

    The Nashville American reported that in January 1899, Squire Luke Stansbury, son of Rev. John Stansbury, discovered that Paris green and arsenic had been sprinkled over the hay they were feeding the cow. The evident intention was to poison the milk and, thus, poison the family. The hay was burned.

    July 22, 2014

  • Drug testing policy deferred until October

    With the start of the next school year only weeks away, the policy committee of the Cumberland County Board of Education decided to defer action on the extracurricular drug testing policy as implementation of changes would not occur before the 2015-’16 school year.

    July 21, 2014

  • camp nakanawa2.jpg Model recalls special rail service to Camp Nakanawa

    Camp Nakanawa, in the Mayland community of Cumberland County, dedicated a new, highly detailed diorama of the camp built over the past year by members of the Crossville Model Railroad Club.
    The large display is a very accurate scale model of the camp and includes a track where an HO model of the Tennessee Central Railroad delivers campers to their summer home.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Souza vows to bring public comments back for vote

    While a few public comments have been made during the last several Crossville city council meetings, the fact that some think their free speech is threatened by recent council actions has lead to discussions and letters to the editor in protest.

    July 21, 2014

  • Panel considers building code options

    The Cumberland County Environmental Committee met last Thursday evening to further discuss the status of countywide building permits and its agreement with the city of Crossville, but no action was taken.

    July 21, 2014

  • Fields a possible buyer for TSUD

    Barry Field, owner of Field’s Engineering Consultant Services, LLC (FECS) has taken an interest in purchasing the highly contested waste water facility in Lake Tansi.

    July 21, 2014

  • gov. haslam.jpg Haslam to speak at Chamber membership meeting

    Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce annual membership meeting will be held Aug. 8, 2014 at the Cumberland County Community Complex. The meeting will include awards, presentations and recognitions, with scheduled speaker, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. The Chamber would like to recognize and thank Cumberland County Bank for its platinum sponsorship of this year’s annual meeting.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Driver charged after woman injured in crash

    A motorist who witnesses said plowed into a car without touching his brakes is now facing numerous charges, including endangerment of a pregnant woman who was injured in the second vehicle.

    July 21, 2014

  • City to enter wastewater negotiations with Veolia

    With a majority of Crossville City Council members in favor of retaining Veolia as the contract operator of the city’s wastewater treatment plant, a motion to authorize City Manager David Rutherford to negotiate with the company was approved in the July council meeting in a mixed vote.

    July 21, 2014

  • VEC phone scam warned

    Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department is warning citizens of persons makeing phone calls, claiming to represent Volunteer Energy Co-op, claiming an electric bil is past due.

    July 18, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014