By John R. Schirmer
The Nashville School Board continues to study the district’s budget for 2020-21.
Superintendent Doug Graham held a board workshop Tuesday to give members the opportunity ask questions.
A special meeting will be called to vote on the budget after members hold their workshop.
The budget vote was tabled from the regular meeting Aug. 17
The school district’s operating balance as of June 30 was about $4.7 million.
The proposed budget calls for local revenue of about $4.73 million and state revenue of $11.7 million.
Total balance and project revenue amount to about $20.6 million.
Expenditures are projected at about $16.4 million, leaving a balance of about $4.2 million June 30, 2021, according to Graham.
Building principals submitted their funding requests as the budget was being prepared. “Everybody got everything they requested,” Graham said.
The budget includes $250,000 for buses. The district is considering two activity buses to replace models dating back to 2008 and 2009. “I’d rather buy activity buses than route buses for this year,” Graham said.
“We put the money in the budget. It’s there if needed, and it gives us a cushion in the overall budget if needed,” Graham said.
The proposed athletic budget is $50,000, an increase from the previous year because of lost revenue from spring sports during the coronavirus pandemic and because of seating restrictions at athletic events required by the Arkansas Activities Association, Graham said.
The budget includes $25,000 for Covid-19 supplies, Graham said. Supplies include hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, disinfectants, paper towels and a host of others.
The district budgeted $250,000 for virtual instruction for students in grades 7-12. About 20 percent of the district’s students chose the virtual option. Virtual Arkansas will provide instruction for those students.
Other projects not included in this year’s budget include a new roof at primary school.
“The primary roof is a priority,” Graham said. “I hope we can get one more fall out of this one. I’d like to get state partnership funds” for the project, which is projected to cost $800,000. Under the partnership, the state would provide 60 percent of the total, with the district paying the remaining 40 percent.
Without partnership funds, the district would bear the entire cost of the roof.
Another possible project includes improvements to the tennis courts at the Nashville City Park. “There have been discussions to help with the tennis courts” where the Scrappers and Scrapperettes play, Graham said. “It’s time to have a better facility. There’s a lot of interest in tennis right now. Numbers are up. We can’t have regular-season matches there; there aren’t enough courts.”
The schedule includes only one home match.
The district continues to consider the last phase of improvements at historic Wilson Park. Community donors provided turf for the infield last season. The final phase includes new restrooms, concession stand and seating improvements.
Graham is also looking at LED lights for Scrapper Stadium at an estimated cost of $300,000. “This changes the game,” Graham said of the LEDs, and would “make it very nice.”
In other business last week, the board approved routine items for the beginning of the academic year including Title I assurances and a resolution on pay raises for master’s degrees, National Board certification and other items. Both are required by the state.
The board approved the transfer of a kindergarten student from De Queen to Nashville.
The board hired Willie Trimble as an aide in seventh and eighth grade ALE.
Board members and Graham discussed the impact of coronavirus on the district.
Graham said the state has amended rules for elementary and primary school choirs. Originally, they were to practice outside and stay 12 feet apart. The new regulations say they are allowed to practice indoors as long there is six feet between them.
Earlier in the day, Graham held a Zoom meeting with faculty and staff on each of the district’s four campuses. “There are still some concerns among teachers” about the pandemic, Graham said.
“Overall, I’m pleased with the attitude of our teachers. I feel good about when the kids are with us. We’re cleaning, disinfecting. From 8-3:30 every day, I feel good. When they go home in the afternoon or go away on weekends and return, that can open the door,” Graham said.
Along with the district’s other steps to deal with the virus, 150 Rainmates by Rainbow are scheduled to arrive this week, according to Graham. “They’re supposed to clean 99.9 percent of the air. Schools have given great reports on eliminating the flu and common cold,” and he hopes for similar results with Covid-19.
With the precautions in place, “I don’t think kids will pass it on at school. We’ll be subject for them to bring it back from the weekend,” Graham said. “Our plan will work in theory. We’ll see if it will work in reality” with the year underway.