Leaders of the new unified Shelby County Schools are trying to figure out just how much money they'll have to pay for the upcoming school year.
It seemed like the schools budget was set until the county commission voted down a tax increase Monday evening.
A SCS spokesperson tells FOX13 News Interim Superintendent Dorsey Hopson was in meetings going over the budget situation, but they don't have any official details on what this could mean for schools, whether administrators are making any spending adjustments at this point.
The county commission had approved the unified school district's budget in June, and that included the money SCS requested for its operation. But commissioners defeated a tax increase that would pay for that budget.
The majority of commissioners are looking for more cuts in spending to avoid additional taxes. The members of the school board FOX13 News spoke with say they've already trimmed the school budget and they've saved through layoffs, outsourcing and programs cuts.
School board members said can't cut any more and the county commission needs to back up the budget it passed. We're already nine days into the new fiscal year.
"We've issued contracts based on that budget approval," said Betty Mallott, SCS board of education commissioner. "We've issued contracts to teachers in all the schools. I mean, we've made plans based on their approval of the budget so I'm being optimistic that they're going to stand behind their approval to the budget and that somehow they'll work it out."
"Just stay the course," said Kevin Woods, SCS board of education commissioner. "I'm confident that the county commission, even though this is a hiccup, I'm confident that they'll get back to work and do what they've said they would do which is they passed a budget that's necessary to fund education. It's the budget we need in order to start school august 5th and I'm confident that they'll find a way to pay for it."
"My preference would be to push education top of the list," added David Reaves, SCS board of education commissioner. "Give us what we need and we'll continue this year to drive for efficiencies and try to drive the cuts within the organization and make it more lean, more efficient. I think at the end of the year, we'll see some, we'll be able to make some progress with the tax rate."
School starts Monday, Aug. 5. It's unlikely the county commission will be able to reach a deal on the tax rate by then but Shelby County Schools will have to spend money.
School board members say the budget is a blueprint and they can make adjustments throughout the year to pay the bills. But everyone seems to be trying to figure out how to deal with this situation.
It's really uncharted territory.
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