There was a group of concerned residents Monday evening at the budget hearing for the Clay Community School Board.
Many members of the community came hoping to speak about the proposed $53 million building renovation plan, however, board members were quick to let them know it was a special hearing on the budget only.
The total budget for 2007-08 year is $43,120,990 million, with $30,448,089 in the general fund. Salaries and benefits make up 94 percent of the general fund.
Business Manager/Treasurer Mike Fowler spoke about the Capital Projects Fund. This fund was set in place to be used for maintenance of the existing buildings. Recently the state changed the regulations, and the board has been able to utilize some of these funds to pay insurance costs, utilities and technical expenses.
According to Fowler, the utilities that were paid out of the fund for the last school year were approximately $885,000, with additional funds taken for the insurance and technical expenses. This has left Building and Grounds Director Tom Reberger approximately $800,000 to do any repairs or maintenance to the existing schools in the corporation.
Board member Steve Grigsby questioned whether the board needed to consider hiring additional technical staff to handle the number of computers that are currently in the schools.
According to Grigsby, the number of computers in Northview High School and North Clay Middle School alone seem to warrant hiring a technician for these two schools alone.
"I understand the concern," Fowler said, "But I feel that with the age of many of the computers in the school, we should concentrate on replacing the computers first before hiring someone to maintain them."
Board President Terry Barr also questioned whether Reberger set aside any funds for emergencies.
"Tom set back approximately $300,000 last year," Fowler said.
School superintendent Dan Schroeder informed Barr that was where the board acquired some of the money in the rainy day fund.
Residents asked about getting a technical grant, and Fowler explained that the corporation had received a technical grant that had allowed them to install the new one-to-one classrooms in Northview High School and in Clay City Junior-Senior High School.
When questioned further by residents, Barr and Schroeder stated that there was not a specific building fund in the budget.
"This is why we are investigating selling a bond for $53 million," Schroeder said.
Area resident Jim Brannan then read from a prepared statement.
In his statement, Brannan cited major points of interest to himself and he felt, to many other residents.
He said he had visited the two schools that are in the worst repair, East Side and Meridian Elementary, and he did agree that something needed to be done. Roofs needed to be repaired as soon as possible, and he felt the board needed to give specific direction to do so.
Brannan also directed the board that they needed to resolve the teacher's contract issue. He suggested that they hire a mediator and that the board should do its job.
"If you can't do your job that you were elected to do," Brannan said, "then you need to get someone in here that will. There should be a review of the general fund and this corporation should be running like a lean, mean machine."
There will be a special meeting to adopt the budget on Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the North Clay Middle School media center. The next regular meeting of the School Board will be on Sept. 13, at 7:30 p.m. also in the media center.