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Superintendent Andy Craig discusses budget improvement
Superintendent Andy Craig discusses the $6.8 million budget increase for the current fiscal year at the Hoover City Schools Board of Education meeting on June 9. He also addresses the Hoover bus system and the dismissal of workers due to a lack of funds.
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Photo by Jessa Pease.
Hoover Board of Education Building
Hoover City Schools has a new plan to improve its budget and decreasing the deficit.
Superintendent Andy Craig announced a $6.8 million budget increase for the current fiscal year at the Hoover City Schools Board of Education meeting on June 9.
Eight months into the current fiscal year, this decision reduces the current funding deficit from $12 million to $5 million as the result of improved revenue and decreased expenses.
“A multitude of things has positively impacted that throughout the year,” Craig said. “We have reduced the scope in some capital projects. We also have had about four straight years where our property tax receipts have declined or stayed flat.”
Previous to the past four years, Craig said Hoover property tax receipts were substantially and consistently growing, but four years ago it began to decline. This decline allowed Hoover City Schools to increase the budget. The Board of Education was also able to budget an addition $1.7 million from some of the residual bonds from the county.
“All in all we have scrapped along the way, too,” Craig said. “We have held positions open at various points, so we have just tried to get it back to a manageable piece. We are on a good pace.”
In 2013, the Board of Education revealed the 2014-2015 budget projecting $150 in revenue and $167 in expenditures. In the months that followed, Hoover City Schools’ deficit has produced a large amount of controversy among local residents.
The Board of Education was forced to create solutions to either remove or raise $1 million a month to make up the difference.
After an attempt to eliminate the bus system from Hoover City Schools’ was rescinded, superintendent Andy Craig announced a school bus fee, which would charge a monthly fee per child for using the bus system.
The monthly fee’s base rate would be $40.75 for one student rider, $28.53 per rider for two student riders and $21.40 per rider for three or more students.
Buses are scheduled to continue running in the 2014-2015 school year without fees, but there is now a goal to begin the fee system in the 2015-2016 school year. Although the Hoover City Schools Board of Education approved the structure of fees in April, approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. District Court is also required.
“We are on a positive course there,” Craig said. “We are on a course where we are going to maintain the bus service. We are seeking a cost-sharing plan that will certainly help us along down the road. The improvement in the budget hopefully can carry over. We are on a good pace.”
Craig said the board has discussed being on a three- to five-year budget in terms of balancing and managing it, and they are on pace to do that properly.
Cuts in workers
Funding issues also led the Hoover Board of Education to pass a resolution allowing it to dismiss workers due to a lack of funds. The board unanimously voted to reduce nine positions — administrative, supportive and teaching positions — from the workforce.
“What happened tonight was essentially the education version of a layoff,” Craig said. “As we look to organize ourselves and organize our folks to be successful long-term, we are going to restructure and reorganize from time to time.”
Craig said the decision to layoff nine employees was the result of the funding deficit, but Hoover City Schools student population has grown from about 5,000 to about 14,000 over a number of years. He said with that growth they are going to have to structure things differently.
Instructional aides and library aides have already been let go due to budget cuts.
“All in all, looking forward we are on a good pace with the budget,” Craig said. “We still have a deficit, but we are moving in the right direction with it.”
In addition to discussing changes in the budget, Craig was evaluated with a new superintendent evaluation method that was introduced at the meeting.
The process was comprised of 11 different sections, which were all completed by the Board of Education. Other administrators, principals and community members participated in evaluating the superintendent in the sections that pertained to them.
Rating ranged from one to five, one being unsatisfactory and five being exemplary. Superintendent Craig was rated mostly fours in all areas, which means overall he is exceeding the expectations of his position.
He received the highest ratings in technology and facilities management, and his lowest ratings overall and by the board were in community relations. The board presented him a score of 2.6 in this category.
“It’s certainly an informative process certainly one that can provide growth opportunities,” Craig said. “We are life-long learners in Hoover, and I include myself in that.”
Board President Donna Frazier commended Craig on a strong evaluation and said the evaluation was accurate in her opinion. She also said she appreciates everything he has done for Hoover City Schools.