Jackson County’s Board of Education is facing “difficult decisions” with its facilities budget. The BOE discussed its budget priorities during its March 25 training.
The BOE heard from teachers, students and staff about the need for technology, facilities repairs, buses and a new school on the west side.
Construction of a new middle school (or possible sixth-12th grade academy) in West Jackson could cost the Jackson County School System an estimated $17 million. The cost could be paid over several years and could come from Education Local Option Sales Tax money.
JCSS expects to receive $27 million in the 2017-22 ELOST and a portion of that is committed to reducing the district’s $50 million bond debt.
Some ELOST could also be used on technology and bus replacements. The BOE heard several presentations from teachers and students about the need for new technology. And the district is recommending 10 new bus purchases to replace some of its aging bus fleet.
Mark Wilson, the consultant that led the BOE training, said he thinks the district would only have enough ELOST to fund the new school construction, technology and bus purchases.
“The challenge is, that’s not everything on the list,” said superintendent April Howard.
The district has several other needs that it could fund through ELOST including instructional requests, band equipment, surveillance and facilities upgrades to its current buildings. The most costly facilities upgrade would be Jackson County Comprehensive High School at $5.3 million, followed by East Jackson Middle School, West Jackson Middle School, Maysville Elementary School, North Jackson Elementary School and Benton Elementary School.
Wilson stressed that the BOE must look at its budgeting priorities. He said he doesn’t think the district can fund the construction of a new school and upgrade its current facilities.
“We are going to reach a place where we are going to have to make some difficult decisions,” said Howard.
For the full story, see the March 30 issue of The Jackson Herald.