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Council talks about schools’ allocation in final 2020 budget workshop

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JACKSONVILLE — In a scheduled work session Thursday night, the Jacksonville City Council discussed the city’s budget for fiscal year 2020 and the city’s contributions to the board of education and outside agencies.

Thursday’s session was the final of six scheduled meetings of the council to discuss Jacksonville’s draft budget for FY2020, which begins Oct.1. A preliminary draft budget, which will receive adjustments after council input, had the city projected to spend in FY2020 exactly as much as it plans to generate in revenue — $15,190,109.

The budget, which will feature a new part-time information technology staffer as well as a few new vehicles for city departments, will need final approval at a regular council meeting.

At Thursday’s workshop, the council heard from Jacksonville City Schools Superintendent Mark Petersen about the city’s contributions to the school system.

“We appreciate everything the city does for Jacksonville schools,” Petersen said.

Petersen presented a list of items he would like to receive consideration for funding from the city, such as a shared art program for the elementary and high school, cooling fans for the gymnasium, a leadership program for high schoolers and new classrooms to replace two mobile units currently being leased for Kitty Stone Elementary.

“We’d like to be able to build some classrooms, because we are growing,” Petersen said. “We want to be able to send those mobile units home.”

Petersen acknowledged that it would not be possible to get city funding for everything on his proposal.

“I know that’s a lot of stuff that’s here, and I certainly understand and know that I’m not going to get everything that I ask for,” Petersen said. “I also know that you don’t get anything if you don’t ask. All I’m trying to do is to try to improve the district and try to keep our ranking among the best in Alabama.”

The council discussed the possibility of adding more funding to the $125,000 direct support that the city plans to give to the board of education. The city gave $250,000 in FY2017 before scaling back the following year.

“We did cut them real hard that first year,” Councilman Tony Taylor said. 

Also during the meeting, the council heard from outside agencies it will continue to support, such as the Jacksonville Arts Council and the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association, which puts on the annual Cheaha Challenge.

“I want to thank you all for your help,” said Brooke Nelson, ride director for the cycling organization. “This is a beautiful relationship.” The city plans to offer $12,000 in support to the event, which brings thousands into Jacksonville every year.


Contact Staff Writer Daniel Mayes at 256-235-3561 or On Twitter @DMayes_Star.