Chilton County Schools ranked 127th in funding

Published 1:34 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chilton County schools has been ranked 127th in funding per student by the Alabama State Department of Education.

The ranking is based on 2016 fiscal year funding, since those are the last audited numbers across the state.

The Chilton County School System reportedly spent $8,156 per students, which is lower than the state average of $9,389.

Federal, state and local funding per pupil expenditure is used to rank each of the 138 school systems in Alabama. LaVerne Williams, Chilton County Schools chief school financial officer, said the ranking is determined by how school systems use each type of funding compared to the average daily enrollment.

“There are a lot of schools that get more money than we do, but it is determined on how they are using it for their students,” Williams said.

The school system ranked 78th in federal funding, 120th in state funding and 109th in local funding.

“Our ranking can go up depending on how we spent certain types of money,” Williams said. “If we spent more local funding per student, our ranking would go up.”

However, Williams said this is dependent on how much local revenue the school system receives.

Local and state funding have been level, without major increases or decreases, in recent years.

Local funding is generated through local sales tax and various ad valorem taxes designated for the school system.

The Alabama Association of School Boards uses this ranking, along with other financial data to create a School System Snapshot. According to the Snapshot, Chilton County Schools had almost two months of operating budget in reserve during the 2016 fiscal year. Williams said the funding in reserve is a better indication of how the school system is doing financially than the ranking. The state requires school systems to have one month worth of operating budget in reserve.

“If you go lower than the one month, then you are considered not a financially stable system,” Williams said.

This reserve is used to pay expenses when the school system is waiting for state funds to be distributed. Start funding is the largest portion of the Chilton County Schools budget.

Although the state only requires one month of operating budget in reserve, the Chilton County Board of Education has established two months of operating budget as its goal.

In 2016, the cost to operate the school system for one month was $4.2 million.