By JEROD CLAPP
NEW ALBANY —
The final resolution for the $2 million general obligation bond to improve technology infrastructure in the district was passed unanimously at the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.’s board of trustees meeting Monday night.
At its last board meeting in August, the preliminary resolution for the bond was passed. The final resolution allows the board to move forward and sell the bonds.
The measure — which has a tax impact on residents of 6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on their property — will fund improvements to wireless Internet access to all of the corporation’s buildings. The board hopes this will pave the way to put wireless devices in the hands of students to expand learning with technology.
Rebecca Gardenour, board member, said she’s heard concerns about the second part of the district’s vision on technology in schools — which may include students bringing their own device to school.
However, she said she wants the community to know it’s a long way down the road before the board considers or votes on something like that.
Mark Boone, board president, said it may be three years or longer before a measure like that is voted upon because of the questions and funding to iron out, including funding devices for families who can’t afford to buy their own.
He said Monday’s resolution simply puts all schools on a level playing field in terms of wireless capability, which will allow teachers to use devices such as SMART Boards — interactive white boards — more easily.
“This brings equity to technology to all of our schools,” Boone said. “This is to make all of our schools wireless and bring them up to date.”
The board also held a public hearing on the budget it will request from the state.
In its general fund — which manages salaries and other operating expenses — the board expects a loss of about $1 million. Fred McWhorter, chief business officer, said part of that loss comes from an estimated loss of 120 students.
That defect is offset from a $2 million appropriation from the district’s capital projects fund — which manages building and infrastructure costs — into its rainy day fund.
However, the deficit from expenditures to revenue has decreased by $1.2 million. McWhorter said hopefully, that deficit will continue to decrease as the district seeks to balance its budget.
But he said the district’s woes aren’t over yet. With a fifth consecutive year of enrollment declines, more state revenue cuts and federal grant support, there’s still work to be done to keep the district in the black for years to come.
He also said pension costs and retiree health insurance continue to drag on the budget, as well as the rising costs of fuel.
Also, while the district has advertised a tax rate of 1.5081 percent, it anticipates an approved rate of 1.1283 percent. However, the estimated rate is still higher than last year’s, at 1.0395.
McWhorter said part of that was due to an error on the part of the state in calculating the CPF budget from last year. He said rather than borrow the money to make up the difference — which he said would have been a double hit to taxpayers — they adjusted for the error.
Also, Sonny Wright a former NA-FC physical education teacher, addressed the board with concerns about why pools at Scribner and Hazelwood middle schools were closed, but the pool at Highland Hills Middle School remained open.
McWhorter said the operating expenses for those pools cost about $100,000 each. With budget cuts from their general fund through the years, they couldn’t afford to keep them open.
Boone said with two more years of his tenure on the board remaining, he hopes to see the pools reopen, which he said is a priority of his, though others take precedent.