Calhoun County Schools Chief Financial Officer Leslie Bollendorf said the projected cost of the Ohatchee High addition in the final budget was raised from $3 million to $4 million to accommodate the high-end estimate of $3.6 million.
Joe Dyar, superintendent of Calhoun County Schools, said when the board begins discussing the project with architects, requirements will be put into place to make sure the addition does not go over budget.
“We’re not going to have any surprises or adjustments,” Dyar said. “Whoever we hire we’re going to hold accountable.”
Dyar said the board will meet in the upcoming weeks to discuss plans for the addition, but said he expects to add 12 classrooms and a science lab to the high school.
Other changes to the budget from its draft form a week ago included a line item for seven school resource officers at $344,000. Bollendorf said the school system pays the Calhoun County Commission a yearly total for the officers, who are hired through the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.
Before the board approved the budget, member Dale Harbin raised concerns about classroom supply money in the budget. While the state provides each teacher $300 to spend on classroom supplies, the Board of Education also gives each teacher an additional $250. That money is allocated in October.
Bollendorf said the state money has to be spent before the end of the school year, and she has to “hound” some teachers to use the money on supplies in March and April.
“It’s a big problem,” Bollendorf said. “Because I’m not giving money back to the state.”
Sherri Cunningham, a special education teacher for Calhoun County Schools, said the issue with the classroom supply money was based on timing, and that most teachers spend money on supplies before they receive the state and local allocations.
“If you gave us that money in August or September, we’d blow through it,” she said.
Board member Tobi Burt said forcing teachers to spend the money on supplies they don’t need in March or April was “a waste of money,” and asked if the $250 could be pooled together at schools. Bollendorf said while the state’s classroom supply money had to be spent individually by the teachers, the board’s budgeted $250 could be used for that purpose.
Harbin said in the future the board should look at getting the money to teachers earlier in the year.
The approved budget had a total estimated beginning balance for Oct. 1 of $25.2 million, with estimated ending balance on Sept. 30, 2014, of $19.9 million.
Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.