State cuts school funds

Published 10:47 pm Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Chilton County Board of Education’s budget for the next fiscal year is tightening up even before the next year begins.

The board passed Tuesday what members thought was a budget that prepared the county well for potential additional proration in the 2011 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

But Gov. Bob Riley on Thursday announced a cut in state funding for the remainder of the current fiscal year, meaning Chilton County will have to dip into a reserve it planned to use as a cushion for 2011.

“We didn’t see this coming at all,” Superintendent Keith Moore said.

Proration was increased Thursday from 7.5 percent to 9.5 percent, meaning state schools will receive $113 million less the remainder of the month.

Chilton County will receive about $800,000 less, and the difference will come from a $3.3 million reserve.

After passing its budget Tuesday, board members said the county could withstand proration of about 8 percent for the year ending September 2011.

“Now, we’re going to have enough to cover 6 percent,” said Moore, who learned the news Thursday through an e-mail from State School Superintendent Joe Morton.

If the county’s reserve wasn’t enough to cover proration in the next fiscal year, the board would likely have to borrow money.

Riley said he increased proration because BP failed to pay a claim the governor presented last month for $148 million, representing what the state estimated it lost in tax revenue because of the Gulf oil spill.