Pell City BOE bracing for worst, hoping for best
by David Atchison
Aug 25, 2010 | 924 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PELL CITY — School officials said during Tuesday night’s budget hearing the school system is planning for the worse but hoping for the best.

“We can’t control proration,” said board member Norman Wilder.

Officials say if the school system is not hit with proration next fiscal year, from Oct. 1-Sept. 30, 2011, the school system could build up about $1 million in reserve. The picture could be different if the school system is hit with another year of proration.

“In the worse case, we still will be breaking even,” Dr. Bobby Hathcock told board members at the budget hearing, which followed the board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Tanya Holcombe, assistant chief financial officer for the school system, made a presentation of the proposed 2011 budget.

She said the state warned school systems to brace for a 3 or 5-percent proration next fiscal year.

“That’s the only numbers we’ve heard,” Holcombe said.

She said if the school system is hit with 3 percent proration, the $1 million projected ending fund balance could dip by as much as $611,327. If the system is hit with 5 percent proration, it would gobble up all of the anticipated reserve — but the school system would break even.

Hathcock said despite hard economic times, school system services have not been cut.

“We have to hope at one point the economy will turn around,” he said. “This is the hardest time in education that I’ve ever known about. I wish we had a ton of money in reserve.”

However, he said debt service is about right for the school system, and facilities are in pretty good shape.

Hathcock said he hopes the economy improves and the school system’s reserve can be built back up in the coming years.

For the past two years, proration has strapped the school system. Officials said they saw a $4 million cut in state funding the past two years, which basically gobbled up the system’s entire reserve.

“I’m pretty pleased with where we are, with what has happened,” Hathcock said, saying the school system is managing despite seeing a huge influx of students the past year.

He said the school system has 145 more students than it did one year ago.

“That’s significant,” he said. “I guess everybody wants to go to school at Pell City. I don’t blame them.”

School officials anticipate that the new 1-cent sales tax the city recently approved, which the school system will receive half, will generate about $1.15 million in new revenue for the school system. Those estimates are conservative, like with all the revenues anticipated for next fiscal year.

The school system anticipates starting the new fiscal year with about $450,000 in the bank.

Total revenues for next fiscal year are anticipated to reach $36.1 million, while expenses are projected to reach $35.6 million.

Hathcock announced the next state required budget hearing is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14. A meeting will follow, so the budget can be approved by the board.

Prior to the budget hearing, the board had a regularly scheduled board meeting. At that meeting the board:

• Accepted the resignation of Jessica Hampton, a systemwide teacher assistant.

• Approved to hire Brittany Simmons as a system-wide teacher for Iola Roberts Elementary School, Tiffany Ford as a system-wide speech teacher and Joycelyn White as a systemwide teacher assistant.

• Approved to add Sharon Lambert to the substitute bus driver list and Trish McDowell to the substitute teacher list.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.

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