Lowndes BOE reviews proposed budget, attendance

Published 8:16 pm Monday, August 21, 2023

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On Aug. 9, stakeholders and board members gathered at the Lowndes County Public Schools District Office for the monthly Board of Education meeting. 

This month’s meeting began with the hearing of the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Proposed Budget read by Yolanda Reid, Lowndes County Public Schools director of fiscal affairs. 

“For our FY24 Proposed Budget, the Foundation Program is expected to receive $7.7 million in state funding with a local match of $1.3 million,” Reid said. “These funds will cover state earned units, textbooks, local schools, and central office expenses.”

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Of those funds, $9 million is allocated to schools within the district for areas such as employee salaries and benefits, supplies, materials, intervention and summer school programs, professional development, upgrades to the transportation department, and capital purchases to upgrade and repair some district schools. 

One notable item on the meeting docket was funding allocations to the transportation department. Reid announced that in addition to funding allocated for personnel, over $200,000 will optimistically be awarded for the purchasing of new school buses.

“Transportation should expect to receive $1.4 million, which will cover salaries and benefits for 29 bus drivers, one supervisor, one route supervisor, one shop foreman, one mechanic, and one mechanic helper,” Reid said. “We should also receive $204,687 to hopefully be able to buy 3 buses, but with the cost of buses increasing, we’re not sure at the moment.” 

The proposed budget also allocates funding for capital purchases including upgrading district HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, upgrades to lighting, various roof repairs and replacements throughout the district, and building modern manufactured classrooms and shop areas at district schools.

During the meeting, Lowndes County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Samita Jeter discussed differences in the number of students enrolled for the first four days of school between the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years, calling attention to a decline in the number of students in attendance.

“On the fourth day of school last year, we had 1079 students,” Jeter said. “As of today, we have 1032. In comparison to last year, there is a drop in enrollment for the first week.”

Jeter noted that while enrollment numbers are expected to rise as the school year progresses, attendance is crucial during the first forty days of the school year as those numbers are a deciding factor for school funding. 

Athletics were also a topic of discussion at the meeting as Jeter announced that Calhoun and Central High Schools were recognized as 2023 Sportsmanship Schools during the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s (AHSAA) Summer Conference. The AHSAA Sportsmanship School Award is presented to schools who did not receive any fines, suspensions, or ejections throughout the 2022-2023 school year. 

The Lowndes County Board of Education looks forward to a productive school year and invites community members to join them at their next meeting which will be held at 6 p.m. on Sep. 14 at Central High School.