2003 school budget should be in black

Expenses will exceed revenues in the Shelby County Board of Education’s proposed 2003 budget. But that does not mean the board will be hurting for funds.

While projected expenses of some $180.9 million will exceed anticipated revenues of about $161.5 million, the 2003 budget will include a carry-over of some $30.2 million as a beginning balance from the fiscal year 2002 budget.

Jim Davis, director of finance for Shelby County Schools, gave the reassuring report to the board during its July 25 budget public hearing.

Davis said the carryover includes $8 million from the sale of bonds that will be used for current and future portable classroom replacement projects in 2003.

Included in the proposed budget, he said, will be the shift of $2 million from an anticipated $3.3 million in reserve funds to the general fund.

The shifted dollars, he said, will come from local tax revenues for capital projects.

Of that amount, Davis said,

it is proposed that $500,000 be spent to purchased about 10 new school buses.

But the 111-page proposed budget did not make it through the public hearing before Superintendent Evan Major suggested other changes. The final budget, including those changes, will be brought to a vote Aug. 8.

Major wants to use reserve funds to add $35,000 for the English as a second language program in summer school.

Davis noted, however, if grants sought for that program come through, the proposed $35,000 will not have to be spent.

Major also wants to use reserve funds to add $25,000 to increase the budget for public relations to

$50,000; add $15,000 to the Advanced Placement budget; and add $29,000 to extend middle school counselor contracts from nine months to 11 months.

Davis said the state estimates Shelby County will need 1,334.64 teacher units in 2003.

But the board will actually hire 1,444.42 teachers, some 242 more teachers than the state calculates at a cost of $11 to $12 million. That expense, he said, will come from local Shelby County taxes.

Major said the school system is being funded by the state at a level to meet old Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ accreditation standards.

He said, however, the school system’s goal is not to meet &uot;minimal&uot; but &uot;highest level&uot; standards.

He said Shelby County is the only county school system in Alabama ranked in the top 10 for local funding.

According to Davis, revenues for Shelby County Schools break down as follows: local, 44 percent; federal, 6 percent; state, 51 percent; and other, less than one percent.

He said local revenues are generated as follows: Child Nutrition Program, about 7.8 percent; local schools, some 5.8 percent; boosters, about 7.3 percent; taxes, some 76.1 percent; and other, about 3 percent.

Davis broke down expenses as follows: instructional services, 47.5 percent; instructional support, 13.5 percent; operations/maintenance, 7.1 percent; auxiliary, 10.5 percent; general administration, 1.6 percent, capital outlay, 7.9 percent; debt service, 9.2 percent; and other 2.9 percent