City schools adopt $33.4 million budget

The Fort Payne Board of Education approved a 2021 budget of $33.4 million at Thursday’s meeting.

Chief Financial Officer Patty Strickland said there are no changes in the salary schedule from last year.

“In the General Fund, we are budgeting $1,911.63 more revenue than expenditures,” Strickland said. “In special revenue, we are budgeting $119,647.79 more in revenue than expenditures. Debt service will break even. For capital projects, we are budgeting $373,084.17 more in expenditures than revenues. For the fiduciary trust fund, we are budgeting $65,539 more in revenues than expenditures. For the total for the system for 2021, we are budgeting $185,985.75 more in expenditures than revenues. We are expecting to have an ending fund balance on Sept. 30 of $14,580,189.87.”

Strickland also detailed the July 2020 financial statements and bank reconciliation report, which the board approved. She said revenues for June included around $9,000 in property taxes, $112,000 from county sales tax, $71,000 from the alcohol sales tax, $18,000 in TVA money and $200,000 donated from the City of Fort Payne for purchasing supplies for teachers and students. Overall, for the month of July, the school system had $730,708.51 more in expenses than revenue. The statements reflected the system’s purchase of two electric buses, partial payment on construction of new tennis courts and spending funds provided from the CARES Act to address the financial hit from the pandemic.

Superintendent Jim Cunningham thanked Strickland, system-wide bookkeeper Janice Everett, system-wide payroll clerk Rita Chapman and AP Clerk Kathy Landry for their work on the budget. The school system’s finances were last audited in April by Bill Massey, CPA, of MDA Professional Group, P.C. Massey noted it was a clean report with no irregularities.

On Thursday, the board also approved a 2020-21 Five Year Capital Plan for the system. Cunningham read aloud a list of various projects that are on the system’s wish list, cautious to note that some won’t happen but can easily be revisited next fall when a new five-year plan is adopted.

He said Little Ridge Intermediate School continues to aim for a December 2020 completion date. The capital plan includes some $800,000 for furniture for the new campus. Dirt from the construction site will be moved to the ditch behind Wildcat Stadium so they can create more parking spots for visiting teams. The plan also looks at replacing the HVAC system in the Fort Payne High School cafeteria and replacing roofing at Wills Valley Elementary School that was installed in 1998, along with purchasing new Promethean panels for teachers, replacing computer servers and other needs.

They also want to re-turf the football field and resurface the track around it. Funding from a bond issue may determine how many items on the plan see completion. Cunningham thanked Fort Payne Public Works Director Tim Williams for the city’s assistance in paving and striping parking spaces and noted the city’s donation for supplies, saying he hopes this continues.

Discussing the start of school, Cunningham told the board, “We did have 25% of our students go virtual this time, and that has been a challenge but a success. I want to thank all of our staff who’ve worked hard to get us off to a great start for a new school year. They work hard to make every day a success, and we appreciate them. Students have been great. Safety is a big concern, and they are following the guidelines as they should. Our total enrollment this year for K-12 is 3,340, and we have 115 Pre-K students. That puts us up about 100 students in K-12 from last year’s numbers. We have a really large kindergarten class.”

The board set the next regular board meeting for Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in the conference room of the Central Office.

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