Board makes LFMS offer
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Jun 14, 2013 | 1268 views | 0 0 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bradley County Board of Education has offered to contribute $1 million toward an academic building at Lake Forest Middle School.

Funding will be conditional on the Bradley County Commission committing to funding the project with a construction start date in 2015, according to discussion at Thursday evening’s monthly session of the county school board.

The Commission has until July 1, 2014, to make a decision or the offer will be withdrawn. Where exactly the funding would come has not been determined.

Board member Nicholas Lillios, who made the motion to offer the funding, said the board would have two years to determine where the money would come from.

Only board member Rodney Dillard voted against the motion.

School board chairman Charlie Rose said the school system has contributed to the project through asbestos abatement and roof work on the buildings that will be kept. These buildings include the cafeteria, administration building and media center. (A Comprehensive Development Classroom will also be kept. This building did not require asbestos abatement.) The board has committed an estimated $200,000 to $250,00 for the abatement and roofing, according to Rose. The academic building is being proposed to replace pod-style buildings across the LFMS campus.

“This is not just a financial request of the County Commission. It is a strategic request of the County Commission,” board member Chris Turner said.

Available funding was discussed during the meeting.

Insurance money, $831,360, received from the demolished Blue Springs Elementary School could be used toward the project. The school board previously voted to commit these funds to a new Blue Springs School. However, the current board could vote to overturn this decision.

Finance director Rick Smith said the insurance company has also agreed to allow the board to use $287,000 from Blue Springs code upgrade funding for the LFMS project. Smith said this was possible because Blue Springs students had gone to LFMS.

Board members Dillard and Christy Critchfield were not in favor of using Blue Springs insurance money toward the project.

“We told those people in that community that that money would be set aside for Blue Springs School. That’s where that money needs to stay,” Dillard said.

The board also has some money, one-fourth of 1 percent of the budget, above the required fund balance that could be set aside for the project. Smith said the requirement is 5 percent but he would prefer having more than that in the fund balance.

“I do believe that the Bradley County Board of Education has made a lot of hard decisions and I have yet to see the County Commission make a hard decision about Lake Forest,” Critchfield said. “I do not believe that we have the funds available.”

She said not specifying where the money is coming from could lead to budget cuts if the money is required.

The current projections for county revenues would not allow the Commission to borrow the funding needed until the 2016-17 fiscal year.

“There are other ways to build schools besides projected revenue,” Critchfield said.

Also during the meeting, board members reviewed mileage logs for the energy manager. The review came as a result of board member Chris Turner suggesting the board consider providing a vehicle for the manager, rather than reimbursing his mileage. The county reimburses mileage at a rate of 36 cents a mile.

Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel said he had discussed the logs with the manager and he affirmed that they were accurate.

Lillios questioned why after visiting two schools the energy manager always returned to the Central Office. McDaniel said he was not positive about an answer to this. Critchfield said if the board was going to question someone’s performance, then that person should be present to explain. The board passed a motion to have McDaniel and Rose meet with the energy manager to discuss the mileage logs.

McDaniel also said he was planning to have an older maintenance truck repaired for the energy manager’s use. McDaniel said the nature of the position requires trips to the schools for monitoring and awareness purposes.