MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery Chief Education Officer Dr. Reginald Eggleston has passed an alternate budget for Montgomery Public Schools without board approval.
MPS Spokesperson Tom Salter confirmed Eggleston was able to pass the budget under the State Intervention Act, meaning he didn't need board approval.
The budget includes $4.7 million in expenditure cuts, which is equivalent to 81 full-time MPS employees. The board excludes the sale of Georgia Washington Middle School.
According to documents surrounding the budget options, the passed budget has a reserve fund balance of $18.5 million, which meets the required reserved fund balance of $18.4 million.
The Montgomery County Board of Education rejected the budget Dr. Eggleston initially recommended that included the sale of Georgia Washington Middle School for the 2018 Fiscal Year in a special called meeting Thursday.
Robert Porterfield, president of the board, said he is happy a budget was passed. He also said he is pleased with Dr. Eggleston's choice of budget. Porterfield voted against the budget containing the sale.
Melissa Snowden, who represents the district where Georgia Washington is located, said the entire process has been difficult for her.
"Many people in my district oppose this sale, and I sit on the board to represent them," Snowden said. "I had to make sure their voices were heard. I also realize this is going to affect them at more than just one school now."
As a former teacher and eleven-year board member, Snowden said her concerns are the personnel cuts. She said cutting the number of educators in the system affects the quality of education to students. She also said, as the documents presented to the board indicate, the budget is not a sustainable fix for MPS's budget woes.
"We are on a trajectory that we will have to continue to cut every year," Snowden said. "I understand that, from last year, we lost 790 students. It's like losing a whole school of children. That's how we get our foundation money…from bodies."
She said a decrease in enrollment cost the system about $4 million. On top of that, Snowden and other board members said Montgomery County cut $2.8 million from its funding of MPS.
While board members remain torn on the sale of Georgia Washington, many agreed at last week's hearing that increasing local funding is a top priority.
"It's our only hope to save our finding crisis," Snowden said. "We are in a crisis, in my opinion."
Snowden said the board has been discussing campaign strategies to get the Montgomery County Commission to add a potential Ad Valorem tax increase to its ballot to help fund MPS. She said the board is making efforts to gather research to present to the public, to explain the impact the tax would have and how it would benefit the system.
In the meantime, the sale of Georgia Washington is not out of the picture.
Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone released a statement concerning the potential sale, following the budget announcement. He said, "We believe this is a good opportunity. We believe it's good for students in Pike Road and in MPS. It's good for both systems. It was negotiated with that in mind. We are confident things will move forward as they are today."
Porterfield, Snowden and Board Vice President Dr. Lesa Keith all stated the sale could very well still happen. The 2018 Fiscal Year budget just does not depend on the sale.
The board's second community meeting about the sale will still be held on Thursday at 6 p.m. at MPS' Professional Services Center.
On Friday, the board will meet to discuss and review the feasibility study it conducted on the sale to see if it would benefit MPS. This meeting will be at 1 p.m. at the MPS Central Office Auditorium.