Macon Schools request $3.2 million for capital projects
Between Macon County Schools and Southwestern Community College, education expenses make up 18 percent of the county’s budget.
The $8.5 million in education expenses, including an additional $182,723 over last year’s budget, will cover $7.3 million in operating expenses for the public school system, $600,000 in capital outlay expenses, $472,590 for teacher supplements, $60,000 in timber sales proceeds and $281,843 to SCC.
Despite the 3 percent increase in funding over last year, it’s not enough to keep up with the needs of Macon County Schools. The $600,000 included in the proposed budget for capital outlay isn’t going to put a dent in the school board’s $3.2 million list of facility improvement needs.
While many items on the list have been mounting over the last few years, others are safety improvements recently identified because of the school shooting that have occurred across the country. Macon County has had its fair share of threats in the last several months, including a recently discovered hit list created by a 16-year-old male student at Franklin High School.
Close calls like that have put school administrators on high alert and this year’s capital funding request comes with high stakes. The school system is asking for funding for safety improvements particularly at Franklin High School. Like many high schools in the region, the buildings are spread out with many entrances and exits that need to be better secured.
The long list of requests include $40,000 to renovate FHS’s main entrance, $7,500 for classroom door locks, $52,000 for a classroom phone system, $4,000 for a card entry system at Macon Elementary, $150,000 for perimeter fencing at the high school, $300,000 for an alarm system and $181,100 for security cameras.
Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin would also like to see more funding for school counselors. Franklin High School only has two counselors who are expected to work with about 1,000 students.
With the recent teacher rally in Raleigh (see page 6), school safety, teacher pay and crumbling school infrastructure are hot topics commissioners know have to be addressed.
After the budget presentation, Commission Chairman Jim Tate acknowledged the educators who were there to advocate for more funding. While there wasn’t an opportunity for public comment, Tate assured everyone there would be more dialogue and discussion at 6 p.m. June 5 when the commissioners hold a joint meeting with Baldwin and the school board to discuss the education budget request.