Board approves $16 million budget for ECS

By Thomas Wilson

   The Elizabethton Board of Education voted 4-0 Thursday night approving the city school system's 2004-2005 fiscal year budget, which eclipsed the $16 million mark for the first time ever.
   The budget rings in at $16,076,853 of total expenditures including the general purpose, federal projects and child nutrition funds. The proposed general fund budget contains expenditures of $13.5 million representing a 1.9 percent increase over last year. The federal projects fund is budgeted at $1.7 million while the child nutrition program budget is estimated at $743,000. The system's federal projects revenues expect to climb roughly $450,000 from last year from $1.3 million to $1.7 million with more federal dollars coming into the Title I and IDEA funding.
   The ECS budget includes a $2,332,000 allocation from the city of Elizabethton. The city will also continue to pay the salary and benefits totaling $42,720 for the student resource officer at Elizabethton High School. ECS administrators estimated state funding through the Basic Education Plan formula at just over $7 million, representing a 2 percent increase over last year.
   ECS teachers and staff members are expected to receive a 2 percent increase on total salary plus a 1 percent bonus on all employees' base salary. ECS' per pupil expenditures of $6,963 ranks the system fourth among school systems in East Tennessee and $300 above the state average.
   The budget contains more than $500,000 in project capital expenditures for the coming school year. The general fund budget included a $596,000 deficit of expenditures to revenues including capital projects. The system will cover the increased expenditures via its $1.4 million general fund balance. ECS Director Dr. David Roper noted during the meeting the bulk of the deficit was being serviced through the system's capital reserve designed to cover such budgetary shortfalls. He said much of those costs were being used to construct the media center facility at T.A. Dugger Junior High School at an estimated $262,000.
   One capital expenditure removed from this year's budget was roofing repairs at West Side and East Side elementary schools. The board voted to reject the repairs initially included in the capital outlay budget based on high petroleum prices associated with roofing costs. ECS officials originally budgeted roofing costs at $241,850, but the lowest bid submitted by Morristown Roofing came in at $324,000.
   "Oil prices are so high right now that we will be bidding the project later," said Roper who expected to re-bid the roofing projects early next year.
   Representatives of Hoilman Construction, Inc. will have a busy schedule around the city school system this year. Board members approved Johnson City-based construction company as the "lowest, compliant, and responsible" bidder for several capital projects at system schools. Hoilman won bids for classroom flooring replacement at East Side and T.A. Dugger ($49,480); exterior painting at T.A. Dugger ($29,863); installation of motorized basketball goals at Elizabethton High School ($16,020) and Harold McCormick Elementary ($10,603).
   In other business, the board voted to approve a one-year contract with Wellmont Health Systems for rehabilitative medical services for students including physical therapy and occupational therapy.