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VOL. 129 | NO. 88 | Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Germantown School Board Approves Budget Without Shared Services

By Bill Dries

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The Germantown Municipal Schools board approved Monday, May 5, a tentative $47.1 million budget for the coming fiscal year and school year that includes the school system opting out of shared services with other municipal school districts for in-house nutrition services, purchasing services and employee benefits services.

The board vote was 3-2 in favor reflecting the debate among the five members over the shared services plan.

Most on the board said they favored Germantown Schools providing those services and others in-house within the school system’s budget. But the debate was whether that was possible with the start of the school system’s first year and given the funding the school system has for that first year.

Germantown Schools superintendent Jason Manuel said bringing the nutrition, purchasing and employee benefits services in house involves an extra cost of approximately $80,000 with what had been part-time positions being made full time.

With the added expense, it leaves the school system with about a $450,000 reserve if the budget is approved as is by the Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The school board delayed votes on other shared services agreements among the six suburban school systems to await bids from those who would provide the services.

In other action, the school board voted to formally ask the Shelby County Commission in Wednesday committee sessions for a share of $50 million in county capital funding for the current fiscal year and opposing the request by Shelby County Schools officials for all of the funding.

Shelby County Schools officials contend the commission can fund their list of capital projects without having to split the funding proportionately by average daily attendance for each of the seven school districts if it does so in the current fiscal year.

The Shelby County Attorney’s office as well as the county’s bond counsel have said in written legal opinions that such an ADA exception would be legal.

But County Mayor Mark Luttrell has said some of the projects on the SCS list are not capital projects. Luttrell has also said he believes the suburban school systems should get some share of the $50 million in funding for their needs.

Meanwhile, the attorneys for all six suburban school systems have issued their own legal opinion which distinguishes between the ADA requirement taking effect on the July 1 start of the new fiscal year and the intent of the same state law that requires enrollment figures and state and county funding committed to the new school system.

“As of the date of this opinion, the municipal districts are properly formed, have elected boards of education, have enrollment figures and have BEP and local county funds committed to them via the Tennessee Commissioner of Education according to their projected attendance figures for the 2014-15 school year,” reads the May 2 legal opinion signed by the attorneys for all six school systems. “The municipal districts do not have a history of student attendance, as their first school year in operation is expected to be the 2014-15 school year.”

Suburban school leaders are expected to be present at Wednesday’s 9 a.m. committee sessions before the County Commission which was already scheduled to include a presentation by Shelby County Schools leaders.

The county commission could vote on the capital funding request at its Monday, May 12 meeting.

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