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Trustees OK $25.5M new school budget

The Brookhaven School Board approved a $25.5 million new yearbudget Tuesday.

Brookhaven School District Superintendent Lea Barrett presentedschool officials with the 2006-2007 budget, which includes a justover $1 million increase from last year’s budget of $24.5million.

The increase is attributed largely to the restoration of nineteaching positions lost last year and an addition of two positionsto accommodate an expected enrollment increase of 115 students.Other causes for the budget increase included high fuel prices,higher utility costs, higher health insurance costs for thedistrict’s 457 employees, increased property insurance fees, andmonies allocated for the purchase of three new school buses.

But because of an increase in funding through the MississippiAdequate Education Program, school officials will not seek morelocal funds in the form of property taxes.

“We addressed the goals set by the school board, and it is abalanced and focused budget,” said Barrett, citing districtofficials’ belief in an ethical and moral commitment to be goodstewards of funds and to provide a quality education forstudents.

With the new budget, Finance Director Susan Quin said thedistrict would have a reserve fund of approximately $1.2million.

Carl Aycock, president of the district’s board of trustees,clarified what was meant by “reserve fund,” citing it as excessfunds.

“A reserve fund exists when you’ve paid all your bills at theend of the fiscal year, you cease business and you have money leftover, or if you have money to operate on when you have a dip in theeconomy or ad valorem,” Aycock said. “I know that’s a hard numberto get at because we get most of our tax dollars in March andApril, so we have a high fund balance going into the summer.”

Quin said board members like to have a 5 percent reserve fundbalance at the end of the year.