County schools present new year budget

Published 7:32 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Lincoln County School District will rely on tight spendingand money saved from prior years to help it get through a leanfiscal year without layoffs or furloughs for teachers.

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1,is built on $24.09 million in federal, state and local revenues. Afew sacrifices have been made to cut spending back as far aspossible, but the district will not see any major losses in the2010-11 school year, said Superintendent Terry Brister.

“On our budgets, we went to the extent,” he said. “We went tothe worst-case scenario on every budget item. I am pleased we’re ina position we can make it with what we have, but I do know we can’tcontinue to take these cuts and survive.”

The new budget was discussed during a Monday public hearing,which drew no members of the public. The budget will be approvednext Monday during a special-called board meeting to close out theyear.

The county system’s $24 million budget features an operationalfund of $17.1 million, with the majority of that money derived fromthe Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the state’s main sourceof funding for school districts. Lincoln County’s MAEP allocationwill be $12.6 million, with a handful of smaller funds taking thedistrict’s total state funding to $13.1 million.

Locally, county taxpayers will contribute $3.54 million inproperty taxes to the district, which is not seeking an increase inthe millage rate this year.

The budget plans on slightly more than $100,000 in federalfunding, not counting the millions of federal dollars specificallyearmarked for programs like special education.

Approximately $14.3 million of the $17.1 million operation fund- 84 percent – will pay the salaries and benefits of the district’steachers, leaving a little less than $3 million to divide amongnecessities like school supplies, property expenses andprofessional services. A small number of retiring teachers will notbe replaced, a part-time tutoring program will be eliminated andone full-time and one part-time federally funded position werescrubbed.

The district also plans to save money by waiting until fiscalyear 2012 to transfer money into the schools’ textbook funds -though each school currently has a balance in its textbook fund -and will not purchase any new school buses this year.

An estimated 3,025 students will attend school in Lincoln Countythis fall, with that number expected to increase slightly oncetransfers are complete. The district’s average spending per studentis $5,654, the lowest of all the state’s 152 school districts.

District Business Manager Cheryl Shelby said the proposed budgethas been built with $300,000 of cushion, half of what would berequired if the district took a 5 percent cut, an ever-presentthreat from the state as tax collections lag behind expectedtotals.

Shelby said other funds have balances that can be musteredagainst such a cut, with $150,000 spare in each the fuel andmaintenance funds, and $25,000 left over from an expected increasein insurance premiums that never increased.

“I have dollars in my expenditure budget outside of salaries Ican use to absorb that cut,” she said. “We’re slick on that.”