Opelika City Schools Approves New Budget, Defines Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan

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Opelika Board of Education Building. Photo by: Robert Noles, Staff Photographer

BY WIL CREWS

SPORTSCREWS@OPELIKAOBSERVER.COM

OPELIKA —

The Opelika City Schools (OCS) Board approved a $37.3 million fiscal year 2023 budget at its Sept. 15 meeting.

OCS Chief Financial Officer Chris Harrison presented the budget and explained that expected revenue for the system in the next fiscal year was estimated at $99.1 million, while projected expenditures were estimated at $101.38 million, resulting in a combined total equity balance of $34.6 million.

The budgeted General Fund for the system is $20,116,988, compared to $18,340,278 in 2022. The projected ending fund balance in the General Fund is $27.6 million, resulting in a 6.68-month reserve.

Furthermore, local revenue for the General Fund, the second largest source of estimated revenue, is projected to increase by $1.1 million (4.8%) from last year. State revenue, the largest projected source of revenue for the General Fund, is estimated to increase by $24.3 million (8%). Expenditures in the General Fund were estmated at $46.9 million, compared to the FY2022 projections of $57.1 million. The decrease in expenditures is attributed to the transfer of funds from the General Fund FY2022 budget to the Capital Projects Fund to finance the construction of the new sixth grade Fox Run school. The greatest portion of general fund expenditures, about 76%, will be for instructional services and instructional support.

There are 636 total budgeted personnel units within the system, with teachers comprising 364.5 of those units. Of those total personnel units, 491.91 are state-funded, 107.77 are federally funded and 42.32 are locally funded.

Revenue in the Special Revenue Fund, which includes federal reserves, public school funding, after school programs and the Child Nutrition Program, are expected to decrease by $1.1 million (15.5%), largely due to the projected reduction of federal pandemic reimbursements. 

The board settled on the budget after two previous budget hearings on Sept. 13 and Sept. 15. The budget begins Oct. 1, 2022, and runs through Sept. 30, 2023.

Prior the approval of the 2023 budget, Tiffany Yelder, assistant superintendent of administration, presented the Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan to the board. The plan is required to be submitted yearly to the Alabama State Department of Education.

Shortly after her hiring in May of this year, Yelder met with community members and businesses, school officials, maintenance staff and Superintendent Dr. Farrell Seymore to do a needs assessment for the system. Her presentation to the school board reflected her findings.

According to Yelder, projects that the system should focus on in the new five-year plan included but were not limited to:  the new sixth grade school; replacement of HVAC systems at Southview, West Forrest, Northside and Opelika Middle School; the renovation of all school campuses to create an entry point for visitors that will improve safety; painting and carpet replacement for Opelika Middle School and Southview Primary; the updating of phone, intercom and bell systems districtwide; roof replacement for the board office, Opelika Learning Center, Carver, Opelika Middle and Opelika High School; the installation of turf at OHS’s baseball field; the replacement of turf at OHS’s football field; replacement of the jumbotron and addition of railing to Bulldog Stadium. 

“We’ve made every effort to focus on school improvement projects that lend to creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone,” Yelder said.

The board approved the Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan, and The Observer will report further on its details as projects develop.

IN OTHER BUSINESS:

– The board approved out-of-state field trips for FFA and FBLA.

– The board approved personnel recommendations.

– The board heard the 2021-22 student incident report.

The Opelika City Schools Board typically meets at 300 Simmons St. in Opelika on the fourth Tuesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 25.

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