Opelika City School Board approves 2021 budget

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By Will Fairless
Associate Editor

The Opelika City School Board approved the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget at its Tuesday, Sept. 15 meeting. The $44 million budget is almost a million dollars less than last year’s, but there are no significant changes in spending.

The budget was presented by the Superintendent, Dr. Mark Neighbors, and the Chief Finance Officer, Chris Harrison, after having budget hearings on Sept. 14 and 15.

One difference between last year and this is in revenue, or at least the source of revenue. Harrison noted the following special revenue points during the meeting:

• CARES Act – Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) revenue of $1.4 million was received in FY2020. These funds may be spent over the next two years through Sept. 30, 2022.

• CARES Act – Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) reimbursements up to $312 thousand may be claimed over the next two years through Sept. 30, 2022.

• CARES Act, Coronavirus Relief Fund – Education Health and Wellness Grant reimbursements up to $451 thousand may be claimed over the next three months through Dec. 15, 2020.

• CARES Act, Coronavirus Relief Fund – Remote Learning Devices Grant reimbursements up to $644 thousand may be claimed over the next three months through Dec. 15, 2020.

Harrison also pointed out that the projected ending fund balance in the General Fund (Fund 11) is $19 million, which equates to a 5.14-month reserve in the General Fund.

“Keep 3-6 months in reserves for those unexpected things,” Harrison said. “When COVID hit and we saw the need, ‘Ok, we’re gonna be going possibly off-site to finish out the year,’ we had to figure out what we’re doing. We saw that the option was Chromebooks. We were able to go ahead and place the order. That’s what the reserve allows you to do.”

In other business, the board considered personnel recommendations. The board meets in the Opelika City Schools central office (300 Simmons St.), and its next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 27.

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