Green Forest district’s budget, enrollment are largest ever
The Green Forest School District’s budget for the 2021-2022 year — which was approved by the school board during its meeting on Sept. 20 — is a bit larger than usual. So is its student enrollment.
According to superintendent Matt Summers, the extra money is thanks to various iterations of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
“It’s a problem, similar to growth, but it’s a good problem,” Summers said. “It is the largest budget we’ve ever had in our history.”
Summers said the district’s total projected revenue is $22,156,302.18 with projected expenditures of $19,120,291.15, leaving an ending balance of $3,036,011.03.
“Normally, we’re in that $18-$19 million area,” Summers said. “We have not allocated or spent all of our CARES money, all of our ESSER II money and very little of our ESSER III money. We’ve got years to do that, so that’s still in there and that pushes us into that $22 million area.”
Of course, he said, there’s more to it.
“We’re a growing district,” Summers said. “Any time you have growth, it means you’ll have growth on your revenue side and you’ll also have increases on your expenditures side.”
In addition to the increase in revenue, the district is also dealing with an increase in enrollment.
“We have the highest enrollment we’ve ever had in our district as well,” Summers said, adding that the district has added five new teachers for this school year. “It can vary a little, but I would say our number right now is 1,318 in K through 12. We do have 120 kindergartners, which is maximum, we have a large freshman class and we have a couple of larger classes in upper elementary and middle school.”
In other business, the board approved a plan to replace an HVAC system in the elementary school for a cost of $14,979.
“We had a failed system for many, many years, but it wasn’t a compressor thing,” Summers said. “It’s a total unit, both heat and air.”
The board also approved a change in the school’s policy regarding use of school vehicles.
In essence, the policy dictates that those using vehicles must be properly licensed and follow all safety precautions such as use of seat belts. In addition, the policy stresses that if a problem arises, it must be reported immediately.
In other business, the board also heard from a concerned parent regarding the use of masks by students and staff in an effort to reduce the number of quarantines in case of possible outbreaks related to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Green Forest has not had a mask mandate in place since school opened last month, although individual students and staff are allowed to take that precaution if they choose. Green Forest did host a vaccination clinic for students and staff, one that Summers said many took advantage of, and plans to hold a flu vaccination clinic soon.
In the two weeks after the first day of school, Summers said approximately 100 students and staff were quarantined in relation to six positive cases. Countywide, the number topped out at more than 400 during that period. Numbers since then have been greatly reduced.
“We have peaked and started to decline from where we were, say, three weeks ago when we were canceling football games and volleyball games,” Summers said, adding that after hearing the parent’ concerns, the board decided to take no action on the matter.
The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, at the Green Forest High School Media Center.