School board budget gets OK
by LARRY C. BOWERS, Banner Staff Writer
Mar 01, 2012 | 1221 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland City Schools employees are scheduled for a 3 percent salary increase for the coming year if the Cleveland City Council approves the school system’s budget request of $38.9 million.

The school board approved the tentative budget for fiscal year 2012-13 following a Site Committee meeting on Wednesday at the central office. In addition to the 3 percent increase for all employees, there will be step increases for all who qualify.

Director of Schools Dr. Martin Ringstaff said staff placed a priority on the salary increases in this year’s proposed budget with a 2 percent hike over the 2011-12 budget.

The City Council will now consider the budget at its March 12 retreat, along with budget requests for all other city departments.

Brenda Carson, the school system’s financial officer, said the school board normally discusses (and approves) its budget proposal at a special called meeting to get the proposal to the Council prior to its workshop.

Ringstaff added the City Schools request goes along with Gov. Bill Haslam’s tentative budget for the state. The governor has asked for a 2.5 increase. Locally, the school board is adding .5 percent to Haslam’s budget projection.

According to Carson, funding for the budget increase would come from an increase in the local sales tax and growth from the county’s property tax. Federal grant money will be figured into the budget during the school year.

Prior to action on the proposed budget, Site Committee members discussed the usual topics of concern — heating and air issues at Cleveland High School, renovation of Cleveland High’s Little Theater, some drainage problems at the high school’s new science wing and a location for a new elementary school.

Maintenance and transportation supervisor Paul Ramsey has been putting together numbers and probabilities for a new school on the current Cleveland (Hardwick Field) airport site.

This information will be available for a joint meeting of the Bradley County Commission, Cleveland City Council and both the city and county school boards, tentatively scheduled for March 14.

Ramsey reported Wednesday that the priority location for a new school would be in the central area of the property, which could devalue the remainder of the 60-plus acres.

School board members have gone on record preferring a 15-acre tract for a new school to the east of North Lee Highway where a huge residential-retail development is planned.

Some Council members prefer utilization of the airport property, once the new Cleveland Jetport is completed in the Tasso community.

Ramsey gave the school board tentative cost estimates for much of the preliminary work needed at the airport site, including the removal of fuel tanks, airplane hangars, the asphalt runway and infield, underground wiring, drainage needs and roadway (street) needs.

The school board Site Committee plans to meet with the Cleveland Airport Authority before the March 14 meeting with the County Commission and City Council to discuss the Hardwick Field location.