Parents of Sumner County students will spend less time shopping for school supplies this summer thanks to the recently approved Sumner County Schools 2020-21 fiscal year budget.
The Sumner County Board of Education unanimously approved on Tuesday a $283.5 million budget that includes $1.3 million for school supplies normally purchased by parents.
“I think in our budget, we can afford to buy all that stuff, and deliver it to the schools so parents don’t have to buy [them],” Sumner County Schools Director Del Phillips told School Board members during a budget workshop on May 12.
Phillips said he asked school district employees to compile a list of items normally purchased by parents of K-8th grade students. The items include instructional supplies like markers, crayons and three-ring binders as well as sanitizing and storage supplies like hand sanitizer, Kleenex and disinfecting wipes.
The director estimates the school district can purchase the supplies in bulk for around $1.3 million.
“I think for us that is the best and biggest thing we can do to help [parents] when school starts in August,” he said. “I really do.”
Phillips’ budget estimates an increase of $16.5 million in total revenue. That includes $12.6 million more in local revenue thanks in large part to a tax increase by the Sumner County Commission in August. Phillips also estimates the school system will receive around $3.8 million more in state BEP funding.
Sumner County commissioners voted to raise taxes 33 cents above the certified rate in August after Phillips requested a $4,000 raise for all certified employees at an estimated cost of $8.8 million.
Phillips’ 2020-21 fiscal year budget estimates $17.3 million in new expenses, including $12.1 million for certified raises with associated costs; $2.9 million for 40 new employees; $1.3 million for the parent school supply list; and $358,950 for long-term disability protection.
The new employees include assistant principals at Jack Anderson Elementary and Shafer Middle schools; 23 new teachers; a new nurse; a new guidance counselor; two school office clerks; four new lead educators; two speech language pathologists; a new bus driver and a new bus attendant.
The new positions are needed for growth in the district’s existing schools, Phillips noted.
Phillips’ budget draws from a $40.5 million reserve and/or fund balance. Of that amount, the director has recommended that $10.6 million remain in a mandatory fund balance account required by the state; and $6 million remain in a newly created fund balance account for future use.
He projects a total budgeted revenue of $265,288,000 - $287,075,000 in budgeted and capital expenditures and proposes using and estimated $21.7 million in a reserve and/or fund balance to make up the difference.
Expenditures that will be funded by a county commission capital fund include $1.6 million for 15 new school buses; $1 million for new textbooks and $200,000 for paving.
Phillips presented the budget at a work session on May 12. School board members voted to approve it on May 19.
He’ll present the budget to a joint meeting of the county’s education and budget committees in June before requesting approval from the full County Commission, likely later in the month.
Sumner County Commission Budget Committee Chairman Chris Taylor said he thinks Phillips’ budget is a realistic one.
“Dr. Phillips and [county Finance Director] David Lawing work hand-in-hand to get the most accurate numbers,” said Taylor.
He added the county is expecting to bring in anywhere from two to four percent less revenue this year due to the COVID-19 health crisis, but that both the county and the school system have done a good job over the years of keeping substantial reserve funds.
“We did a really good job of building our reserves and being conservative in our approach,” Taylor said.