Sumner County Director of Schools Del Phillips presented the school system’s 2020 fiscal year budget to members of the county’s Education and Budget Committees last week. Both committees unanimously recommended the budget that projects nearly $249 million in revenue and $266 million in expenditures.
Some of the budget’s highlights include the hiring of assistant principals at Burrus, Beech and Howard elementary schools, 19 new teachers and pay range increases for all custodial staff, bus assistants and athletic trainers.
The latter range increases are part of a multi-year effort to increase the wages of the school system’s lowest paid employees. Similar range increases were given to bookkeepers in the current fiscal year.
“We won’t have any new [full-time] employees hired as of July 1 in Sumner County Schools that make less than $10 an hour,” Phillips noted.
Phillips said the school system expects to receive around $7.2 million in new revenue - $2.6 million in new local revenue; $4.4 million in additional state funding and $95,000 in other current/local revenue.
Phillips’ budget calls for $10.4 million in new expenses for the 2020 fiscal year. They include:
*$3 million for step raises for certified and classified employees
*$2 million for additional staffing that includes 19 new teachers; three assistant principals; three maintenance personnel; two full-time nurse positions and a Supervisor of Leadership Development and Accountability position.
*$1.2 million for medical and dental increases
*$1 million for range increases for custodial, bus assistants and athletic trainers
*$2.1 million for capital projects that include
*$380,000 for new nurses and a scale change
*$110,000 for software
*$200,000 for electricity
*$225,000 for insurance and legal costs
In addition, the school system will spend $2.8 million in capital funded by the Sumner County Commission in the form of 16 new school buses at a cost of $1.5 million; $500,000 in textbooks and $800,000 in paving.
Phillips’ budget includes a projected beginning reserve balance of $32.8 million. Of that amount, a projected $9.8 million must remain in the fund balance – leaving an estimated $23 million to be used to make up the difference between budgeted revenues and budgeted expenses. The projected budget leaves an estimated $2.16 million in undesignated funds.
Phillips presented the budget to members of the Sumner County Board of Education at a workshop on May 14. Members unanimously approved it during the regular school board meeting on May 21.
At that meeting, School Board member Jim Hawkins said he’d gotten some feedback and input from his constituents.
“A lot of the feedback is in the form of thank you for the focus on improving the baseline pay for our custodial staff, for nutritional staff, for our athletic trainers and for our bus assistants,” he said.
“The other two big inputs I heard were from folks who think that, and I think rightly so, that we need to continue to do what we can to strengthen and improve teacher salaries,” Hawkins added. “I want us to continue to look at where we are with teacher salaries, especially as we go into the next planning cycle.”
During the Education Committee presentation on May 29, County Commissioner Loren Echols asked where the school system was with hiring new School Resource Officers, or SROs.
Echols noted commission members said last year they wanted to put an officer in every Sumner County school.
“Where are we with that?” she asked.
County Budget Committee Chairman Chris Taylor said that the county, and not the school system, funds SRO’s through Sheriff Sonny Weatherford’s office.
“That’s not to say that Dr. Phillips doesn’t have a say in it, but he really doesn’t have a lot to do with it,” said Taylor.
“I guess that’s what I was asking, is he a part of that discussion?” Echols asked.
“I think we have a good situation here,” Phillips answered. “They handle the law enforcement side and we handle the school side. And so when they send new SROs, we say ‘thank you’ and we’re happy to give them a spot.”
Phillips added there may be an opportunity for state funding to hire new officers as well. He said the direction from the state on how much funding would be available has so far been unclear.
“I know we’re going to apply for everything we can get,” he said.
According to Sumner County Schools Spokesperson Jeremy Johnson, there are currently 34 SROs in 32 schools, with two of the officers serving as supervisors.
“We would need 15 [more] to cover all our buildings,” said Johnson.
Taylor said this week that Weatherford has requested five more deputies and a warrant officer for the 2020 fiscal year. It will be up to Weatherford as to where those deputies are assigned.
The budget chairman also said that Weatherford has submitted a five-year plan in which he’s requesting 25 deputies over five years.
The full County Commission will meet next on June 17.