Schools approve $165 million budget

When Elvin Hill was superintendent of education for Shelby County in 1958, he said the school system budget was $1.3 million.

The 2003 fiscal year budget approved by the school board last week was for about $165 million in revenues.

Still, Jim Davis, director of finance for Shelby County Schools, said he felt good about the budget approved by the board of education on Aug. 8.

&uot;The board and superintendent have done a very good job of balancing what we need against the money we have,&uot; said Davis.

&uot;I think it is a good solid budget. We did not sacrifice programs the children need; but it’s a conservative budget.&uot;

Davis said the new budget includes funds built in should proration occur.

&uot;As we look ahead, we’ve tried to reserve enough in case political pundits are wrong … (there is a severe shortage of funds).&uot;

Davis also noted that the new budget includes prioritized items that could be cut should the need arise.

One such item, he said, would be new computer software for his department at a cost of $50,000.

According to Davis, the operating budget approved by the board differs from that discussed on July 25 in the transfer of $2 million from the capital reserve into the general fund and a net increase in expenses of $584,071.

The budget, which remains subject to change during the course of the school year, according to Davis, includes $161,452,172 in revenues, $181,507,807 in expenses, a carryover of $30,192,858 and an ending balance of $11,250,902.

Davis said with $500,000 of the increase in expenses to be spent on the purchase of (an estimated 10 new) school buses, the actual increase in spending is only $84,071.

A summary of changes to the budget is as follows:

1. Transfer from capital reserve to the general fund, $2 million.

2. Add to transportation for buses, $500,000.

3. Add to English as a Second Language for summer school $35,000. (Grants may cover this expense).

4. Add to public relations budget, $25,000.

5. Add to advance placement, $15,000.

6. Add to middle school counselor, $33,000.

7. Add to special education aide (Thompson High School), $20,811.

8. Add indirect cost revenue of $3,539.

9. Adjustments out of expenditures, $48,768.

The 2003 budget, which comes from both state and local funds, includes about 1,445 teachers, 35 librarians, 49 counselors, 73 administrators, seven certified support personnel and 891 non-certified support personnel for a total of about 2,499 people. The school system will also employ from federal funds, 40 teachers and 99 non-certified support personnel.

The county school system will actually exceed state calculations for employees including 243

more teachers as well as other additional school personnel.

At a pervious meeting of the school board, School Superintendent Evan Major said the system is being funded by the state at a level to meet old standards.

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

The projected enrollment as of today’s opening day of school, Aug. 14, was 21,188 students.

Davis said the 2003 budget will change during the course of the year. He said the board has already received about $53,000 in grant funds that were not included in the budget adopted by the board on Aug. 8.

Davis told the school board, however, &uot;We feel good about this budget. We don’t have a lot of reserve, but we do try to hang onto what we’ve got.&uot;

Board member Trey Ireland said some schools may need additional teachers because of a larger-than-expected student population.

&uot;Should you need teachers, don’t feel pressured not to hire,&uot; he directed the county’s principals.

Majors said that on the first day of school, the board could &uot;very well be in a position to make some changes.&uot;

&uot;I hope we only have 100 new students,&uot; he said