Money ‘not an issue’ for city schools

Published 2:40 pm Friday, February 3, 2012

Money talks.

On Tuesday night, it said a Greenville city school system is possible if local leaders decide to move in that direction.

At a meeting held at the Wendell Mitchell Conference Center on the campus of LBW Community College, Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon and representatives with Birmingham-based Construction Program Management and Jolly Educational Consulting presented the findings of a six-month long study into the feasibility of creating a municipal school system in Greenville. The study’s findings showed that a city school system was feasible both from an academic and financial standpoint.

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“Financially this is not a hard thing to do,” McLendon said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Tim Coker, president of CPM, presented the projected numbers of what it would cost to operate a city school system.

The projected income from federal, state and local levels for a Greenville city school system, according to figures provided by the Butler County Board of Education for the 2011-12 fiscal year, would be $18,447,388.

According to CPM’s findings, it would cost $18,572,664 to operate the four schools that would make up a Greenville city school system. That leaves a deficit of $125,276.

“Money is not an issue,” McLendon said. “That’s not going to be the deciding factor of whether or not we have a city school system. You can see from the study that there’s plenty of money to do this. A deficit of $125,000 when you’re talking about these kinds of numbers is nothing. That shouldn’t be something that deters us from doing this if we decide it’s the right thing to do.”

The initial start–up fees before the first fiscal year funding would be nearly $5.5 million. The city already has $670,000 in an existing foundation, which would leave approximately $4.8 million needed for the initial outlay.

A city school system would have to be approved by the Greenville City Council. The City would then have to determine funding sources for the system.

“If we decide to have a city school system we won’t have to have any new taxes,” McLendon said. “I’m not in favor of any new taxes. Most of the money for the school system is already coming from Greenville. We are already putting money in the school system.”

While the numbers show that it is feasible for the City to form its own school system, McLendon stressed at Tuesday’s meeting that he would rather not move in that direction.

“I’ve said from the beginning that I do not want a city school system,” McLendon said. “But I do want what is best for Greenville. This study shows that our school system, especially at the high school level, is pretty good. We’re way ahead of most, but I want us to take it to the top, and to do that, there needs to be some changes. That may or may not mean a city school system.”