School Board Sends Merger Budget to County Commission

By Bill Dries

Countywide school board members approved Thursday, May 16, a $1.18 billion budget for the consolidated school system in its first fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The board approved the budget on a 17-3 vote, with no amendments to the budget plan proposed by interim superintendent Dorsey Hopson and his cabinet.

At the outset, Hopson announced $4.8 million more in state funding than anticipated that would go toward a $35 million gap in funding for the budget.

The additional state funding combined with a $20 million proposal Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell took to the Shelby County Commission Wednesday takes the gap down to less than $10 million if the school board follows Luttrell’s suggestion to use its fund balance or reserve funds.

"If we get in that range, then the board will have options," Hopson said, specifically mentioning the use of reserve funds.

Hopson also stood firm on restoring no more than 40 pre-kindergarten classes across the consolidated school district.

Some board members had talked earlier in the week of possibly trying to amend the budget to redirect funding for a larger pre-kindergarten restoration. But an amendment wasn't made at Thursday’s meeting.

The budget goes to the County Commission’s budget committee on May 22 for a recommendation, and from there to the full Shelby County Commission.

The commission votes on a total amount of county funding for the school system and does not have line-item control over the schools budget.