Bradley County to review school needs

Bradley County to review school needs

May 23rd, 2014 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Questions about how much money Bradley County Schools should allocate to capital expenses have delayed approval of the system's proposed $69.3 million budget for 2014-15.

In a recent meeting, the Bradley County Board of Education requested a thorough examination of the state's Basic Education Program funding formula as it relates to budgeting priorities for the next fiscal year before it approves its next budget.

Board member Chris Turner wants to know why the proposed budget called for only $1.5 million in capital allocations when the state's Basic Education Program funding formula would equate to $7.6 million for Bradley County Schools.

Such a large difference should be discussed, Turner said in an email.

"The board has not ever considered the funding formula as a roadmap in funding priorities," he said. "Given the funding formula is how the state allocates money to Bradley County, I think we have to have a good conversation about the relative measure of priorities."

There are a number of issues with equating the state's BEP funding formula to constructing a budget, said Rick Smith, business office manager for the county school system.

One concern is that the formula, implemented in 1992, is "antiquated and out of date," he said.

"It's not a spending plan," Smith said. "It has 45 components and is not the same as a budget document."

Some items, such as textbook purchases, are easy to "crosswalk" between the formula and an actual budget, but other items will be like "comparing apples to oranges," he said.

"It's really impossible to crosswalk the funding formula with a budget with 100 percent certainty," he said. "However, if it helps the board to better understand the budget process, then that's a positive."

Bradley County Schools has not announced a date for a meeting to review the analysis and proposed budget.

In other business, the school system is awaiting approval on final budget amendments to its 2013-14 budget year.

In a recent meeting, the Bradley County Finance Committee voted 4-0 to ask that the county's education committee review a request to make adjustments involving a $50,000 federal grant, funding allocations for technology and decreased sales revenue for the school system.

The main concern cited by the panel was in regard to what the grant money could be used for. Originally, the $50,000 grant was to be applied to student support services, but the request called for the money to be transferred to instructional services.

The Bradley County Education Committee will meet after the Bradley County Commission meeting on Tuesday.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.