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School board OKs tentative $108M budget
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The Liberty County Board of Education met Tuesday morning for a regularly scheduled work session. Among the agenda items were a presentation on summer professional development plans, a capital-projects plan update and a tentative budget adoption.
Mary Alexander, assistant superintendent for student services, updated the board on plans for Liberty County School System faculty development, which will take place during the month of June at various locations throughout the district.
Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Jason Rogers presented the board with capital projects and special purpose local option sales tax expenditure projections for the end of fiscal year 2014 through FY 2015.
According to Rogers, the estimated FY 2014 ending balance of SPLOST funds is $11,083,369, which, in turn, will be the projected beginning balance for FY 2015. An estimated  $6,360,000 is to be collected through FY 2015, and estimated expenditures total $9,091,500, leaving an estimated ending balance of $8,351,869 at the close of FY 2015.
Projected SPLOST expenditures for FY 2015 include an estimated $5,076,700 for capital items, $2,362,583 for the Apple technology lease and $575,735 for buses, vehicles and equipment.
Roger Reese, LCSS’ newly appointed chief financial officer, presented the board with a tentative FY 2015 budget, based on Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee’s recommended priorities and the district’s strategic goals. These goals include the reduction of furlough days from six to four; restoration of middle-school athletics; examination of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Ombudsman program; and re-evaluation of the district’s technology needs.
The board approved a motion to adopt the tentative $108,400,000 budget. Expenditures are estimated to be $98,250,000, leaving a general fund balance of  $10,150,000. Additionally, the district expect to have $17,443,000 available in capital-project funds. Capital-project expenditures are projected at $9,092,000, leaving a balance of $8,351,000. The final budget will be presented to the board for adoption at next month’s meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. June 10.

ADA compliance
Some discussion concerned an Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issue regarding drinking fountains in Liberty County High School, Bradwell Institute and the Liberty College and Career Academy. The issue stems from the way in which the drinking fountains protrude from the wall, which could possibly impede people in wheelchairs or who have other disabilities.
Board member Marcia Anderson voiced concern over a compliance issue at the LCCA, stating that although BI and LCHS may require updating to comply with newer codes, the career academy should have been built to meet all standards when it was constructed in 2011.
“That should have been in our architect’s realm of knowledge and awareness,” Anderson said. “ … I’m of the opinion that they should bear the cost of that one.”
Lee said that she understood Anderson’s concern and changed her recommendation to approve the updates for Bradwell and LCHS, but to hold approval for the career academy until research could be completed regarding effective dates of the code in relation to the school’s construction.

Action items
• The board approved a motion to allow architects to begin designing new band towers for Liberty County High School and Bradwell Institute.
• The Apple technology lease was approved. Fiscal impact will be $6.8 million over three years, with the first payment totaling $2.3 million. SPLOST funds will be used to cover these costs.
• Four out-of-state travel requests were approved, including a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, for the LCHS weight team to attend the National Youth Championship from June 12-15, as well as BI’s Family Career and Community Leaders of America to attend their national conference from July 9-11 in San Antonio, Texas.
The Courier plans to provide an update regarding administrative restructuring within the BoE in an upcoming edition.

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