School board hears proposed budget for next fiscal year

Published 10:11 am Thursday, September 8, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Chilton County Schools estimates receiving $81.7 million in revenue for the fiscal year starting in October in the governmental and expendable trust funds.

The school system has other budgets, such as the Child Nutrition Program, that are separate.

CCS Chief School Financial Officer Alisa Benson presented a budget of $76.8 million in expenses in the governmental and expendable trust funds to the Chilton County Board of Education on Sept. 6.

The budget also proposes setting aside more funds in the general fund balance, which is used to pay expenses while waiting for the allocated tax revenue to come in. Benson said the school system has the required one month of operating expenses set aside.

Some expenses have been increased this fiscal year, including utilities, a school resource officer funding (paid through anticipated technology/ safety funding), required software costs and facility insurance.

Board president Pam Price requested a report on which buildings had been over their utility budget for the previous year and by how much.

CCS receives most of its funding from the state through its foundation program. This funding is based on the average number of students in attendance from the previous year, which decreased slightly from last year to 7,348. Benson pointed out that this means there would be a decrease in funding that needs to be kept in mind because it impacts the number of funded units which fund positions. There was a decrease of 3.57 teacher units to 423.17 teacher units. However, the teacher units in the budget for next year is 424.9, so it is only a slight difference, Benson said. Some teaching positions will be funded through class size reduction funding.

Benson emphasized that there were zero teacher units being paid with local tax revenue. She said any positions that had been local units in the past have been put in the foundation budget, whether directly or under other current expenses.

The cost for salaries is budgeted at nearly $27.7 million for the next fiscal year.

State funding also pays some toward nurses, transportation, career tech and a portion of the salary for the technology director.

Benson said the state will fund six nurses. Another six are being paid through federal ESSER funds. Board member Diane Calloway asked how these positions would be paid when ESSER is no longer an option next year.

Superintendent Jason Griffin said the hope is that the legislature will choose to allocate funding to have a nurse at every school.

If this does not happen, Benson said “we would shift some more things out of foundation OCE over to the general fund” in order have the salaries in the OCE funding because this ensures getting some state funding for them.

In order to receive foundation funding, the school system has to contribute a certain amount of local tax revenue, equivalent to 10 mills of ad valorem tax. For CCS, this comes to nearly $4.3 million for the coming fiscal year.

Funding from the state will increase by $900 per teacher for classroom instructional support, and this is included in the budget.

Benson noted the state changed how it is funding the Alabama Reading Initiative to $8,000 per person, which equaled $400,000 for CCS.

“That covered four and a half of the reading coaches,” Benson said. “That other half is coming out of Title money out of federal funds.”

Transportation is another fund that does not receive enough outright revenue to cover cost.

Benson said the department is funded at about 84%, but transportation director Mark Cleckler has made all expenses fit that amount for next fiscal year.

“That is quite an accomplishment,” she said.

Benson said the school system made an extra payment on some debt to get it paid in this fiscal year, which brings the needed funds for the fleet renewal payments within the funding that is available from the state.

During the Sept. 6 presentation, Benson also gave overviews of the other budgets, such as the Child Nutrition Program ($7.3 million), that the school system has.

The school system anticipates receiving $2.3 million in capital outlay funds, which will be used to pay on three debt line items and help fund the maintenance department. Total debt service for the next fiscal year would be $1.486 million.

Benson said this was a way to fund maintenance, but means there is less for larger repairs on the buildings.

The school system’s preschool classes are mostly funded through state funding through the Alabama Department of Early Childhood. Benson said this year the funding will pay for 16 teachers and 12 auxiliary teachers. Three teachers are being funded through the specific school’s Title 1 funding.

Special education ($1.8 million) and Title 1 ($2.27 million) are the largest federal revenue sources for CCS.

The budget will be voted on for adoption at a future meeting.