Baldwin Task Force Looking at Money Challenges

With the passage of most but not all property tax renewals this past March, Baldwin County school leaders are optimistic they can convince people to vote for another tax renewal around the corner. The school year is put on pause for the start of spring break. Members of the community advisory task force are taking stock of where they are–despite the fact a one-mil property tax failed, they’re confident things are moving in the right direction.

“We have a facilities deficit in Baldwin County we need new schools but only once our funding sources are stabilized,” said Community Task Force Chair Kevin Corcoran. The failure of the one-mil amounts to a four million dollar cut–but as lawmakers push a four percent educator pay increase Baldwin’s discretionary fund could shrink more.

“And if the legislature does pass a four percent pay increase for all teachers, which we think they should then that’s going to cost local funds another two million dollars,” said David Vosloh with the Task Force. Vosloh said that would leave six million dollars in the discretionary fund this fiscal year.

“You can’t build much of a school on six million dollars, the cheapest elementary school is going to run about 15 million dollars,” said Vosloh. Ever since they delivered their report in October, another big question for task force members is whether or not they’ll continue their work.

“They’re very interested in the task force continuing perhaps in advisory roles because when the community gets involved schools get better,” said Corcoran.

The next test for the school district will be a penny sales tax that expires in 20-18. It’s not clear when that might be back on the ballot. The Baldwin County School Board is moving ahead with construction plans. It includes additions at several schools but no new school construction.

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