Lee County Board of Education members, from left, Vice Chairman Robert Clay, Chairperson Sylvia Vann and Louis Hatcher, discuss SPLOST VI capital improvement projects during a meeting of the Lee County School Board Monday evening.
LEESBURG - Lee County School Superintendent Larry Walters gave the Lee Board of Education a quick look at the FY 2012-13 budget at a regularly scheduled board meeting Monday evening.
While the system is not anticipating any budget shortfalls in the upcoming fiscal year, the one word that could best describe Lee school finances over the next couple of years is "tight."
With the new Lee County Elementary School currently under construction at a cost of nearly $18 million, the facility is putting a major drain on the LCSS budget.
The system currently has $483,686 in funds on hand for capital projects, while two bond issues and reimbursement of special-purpose local-option sales tax funds loaned to the city of Leesburg push the funding total to $16.2 million, leaving the system nearly $1.6 million short of capital outlays for the upcoming fiscal year.
The system, however, is expecting to receive $4.3 million in funding from the state after the general assembly's current session closes Thursday and the state budget is voted upon.
That infusion of cash will give the system a $2.6 million surplus, which is right in line with the estimated costs of five capital projects on the table for SPLOST IV funding.
"We are anticipating $4.3 million in state funding, but we don't have that money today," Walters said. "We are anticipating $2.6 million available for capital outlay projects. But because of the uncertainty in regard of what we'll be getting from the state, I cannot recommend we proceed with any of the projects right now."
The five projects in the SPLOST IV hopper include:
- $238,019 for repaving the ninth grade campus parking lot.
- $890,268 for reworking and repaving the Bus Shop parking area.
- $54,000 to repave the BOE parking area.
- $1 million to install a track at Lee County High School
- $445,171 to install tennis courts.
Board Member Louis Hatcher said his priority is a new track at the high school.
"It's pathetic that we have a 5A high school and we don't have a track -- not even a bad track," Hatcher said. "This is a basic need. We have to go out of town to run track, and I'm not happy with going to our neighbor to the south (Albany). I don't like going to Hugh Mills stadium. I feel like I have to wear a flak jacket and I know I am vastly underarmed."
Walters said LCSS's financial situation would improve after the completion of the new elementary school next year.
The superintendent lamented the fact that school system employees have not received a raise in the past three years, adding, "if we gave three percent raises it would cost up to $1.2 million in new money annually, and right now we don't have it."