Shelby County schools face possible budget cut by state

The Shelby County School System

could face a $5-6 million cut in its budget for fiscal year 2004 if expected reductions in school funding by the state come to fruition.

Already this year, the county school system received more than $1 million less in teacher funding than it should have from the state, based on the state’s own calculations.

&uot;Mr. Major, in Shelby County you have done so much … with so little … for so long … that we’d like you to move on to doing everything with nothing. Thanks, The State.&uot;

Those were the words attached to foil-wrapped cans of Spam passed out by Jim Davis, assistant superintendent of finance, at the Shelby County Board of Education’s March meeting. The cans were contained in a tiny bank vault (piggy bank) which Davis joked was delivered by a Brink’s armored truck to the school system.

While the message on the cans of Spam were in jest, Davis used them to illustrate the hit the school system’s budget could take from a state education budget cut.

Davis said the state board of education has indicated the school system could see its budget cut by 6 to 8 percent for 2004. But he said, the school system won’t know for sure until June.

According to Davis, the statewide increase in school population for FY 2003 was 1,331 students. He said Shelby County alone accounted for nearly 805 of

those students or more than 60 percent of the increase.

Davis said for FY 2003, the actual student population growth in Shelby County

earned the school system 46.99 teacher units at a calculated cost of some $36,741 per teacher for a total state allocation of about $1.73 million. That, he said, is what the school system actually received from the state.

However,

Davis said, the state’s original calculation for the county school system was 29.72 teacher units at a cost of $60,333 per unit for a total of $1.79 million.

He explained that meant the school system took a hit this year of $66,634 less in state funding.

But Davis went further. Using the state’s original calculated cost of $60,333 and the 46.99 units the school system really earned, he pointed out

Shelby County should have earned $2.84 million in state funds for 2003.

As a result, he said Shelby County Schools in reality is receiving $1.11 million less in

state funding than it should.

Davis went on to project differences in Foundation Program

Parameters between 2003 and 2004 for Shelby County Schools should the state’s 6 to 8 percent school budget cut hold true.

Davis reported that the divisor for Grades K-12 will increase by one student per grade.

That means the number of students per class will be increased, reducing the number of teacher units (teachers) funded.

Costs will increase for PEEHIP insurance from $433 to $522 and Retirement from 5.02 percent to 6.56 percent.

Instructional support per teacher will be reduced as follows: teacher materials and supplies from $525 to $515; technology from $181 to $170; library enhancement from $135 to $125; professional development from $60 to $50; and textbooks from $57.50 to $50.

Transportation fleet renewal will remain the same with a adjustment but

no inflation factor.

Among other variable perameters, Davis reported that schoolteachers received a 3 percent pay hike in 2003, but there will be no pay increase in 2004.

Davis also reported the school system budgeted increase in ad valorem, sales tax and alcohol beverage tax collections of 5.97 percent for February 2003 is running at only 3.57 percent.

Ad valorem taxes and sales taxes were budgeted to increase by 6 percent each but are running 3.59 percent and 3.29 percent respectively.

And alcohol beverage taxes were budgeted to increase at 1.40 percent but are only running at .99 percent.

Davis said a proposed 9-mill tax increase for school construction and renovation to be voted on in May will not be affected by the possible state school budget cut.

The proposed 9-mill tax increase is earmarked and can only be used for capital outlay expenses, if approved.

Following Davis’ presentation, the board approved expenditures of $19.83 million and wages of $8.08 million for total expenditures of $27.9 million for the month of February resulting in an ending cash balance of $43.81 million.

Also, in keeping with public notification requirements, School Superintendent Evan Major reported on federal funds allocated for class size reduction by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

According to Major, under the heading of Shelby County Board of Education Title II, Class Size Reduction Funds, &uot;In accordance with the regulation, Shelby County Schools allocated $685,702 from the Title II Preparing, Training and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals Program to reduce class size in grades K-5. Fourteen teachers were hired to lower student-teacher ration in seven schools

Research indicated that small class size can have a positive impact on student achievement.&uot;