Cuts will make year a ‘washout’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Some local funds may have to be used for purposes other than what they were originally intended.

But Shelby County School Superintendent Evan Major said his school system is &uot;probably not&uot; looking at laying off any (teacher or support) personnel.

That was the response Major gave when asked about the possibility or inevitability of personnel layoffs in light of threatened belt tightening of the state’s budget by Gov. Bob Riley.

Major said since the Shelby County School System has been told to expect a 6 percent budget reduction from the state, he has begun to go through his system’s budget &uot;line by line,&uot; including &uot;some 18,000 lines&uot; to identify where things stand.

He said he is looking at payroll to determine where the school system is and what it needs to carry through to the end of the year.

Major said wherever he can,

he’ll start identifying funds that

can be moved into the budget reserve.

&uot;It’s going to be a difficult year. I’m trying to move every dollar that we can to make sure we have our reserve,&uot; Major said.

He said that effort should offset the state budget reduction and result in what he called a


in the end.

Major said faced with state budget shortfalls, the school system won’t have as many increases in personnel as it would have had.

But he said the school system will continue to grow by 800 to 1,000 students a year and won’t lose any teacher units.

Major said Shelby County Schools rank about eighth in the state in local tax support.

It is that local funding which allows the school system &uot;to do what we’ve been able to do.&uot;

Without such local support, he said, programs such as those for at-risk students would have to be cut.

While Major said the school system will have to dip into local funds, using them for other purposes, he said it is probably not looking at personnel cuts.

With regard to personnel cuts which include teachers, Major said Shelby County does have what is called a &uot;Reduction In Force Policy&uot;

based on seniority.

But he said of the possibility of that policy being invoked, &uot;I doubt you will see it anytime in my career.&uot;

In a recent public hearing on a proposed 9-mill property tax increase to help the Shelby County School System fund a five-year capital outlay plan, Major said of

$8,310 per year spent on each student in Shelby County Schools (including capital outlay and debt services), only $3,843 is contributed by the state.

He pointed out that the funding pie is cut up as follows: state, 50.628 percent; federal dollars, (all earmarked) 5.561 percent; contributions and donations, .14 percent; and local funds, 43.671 percent.

Major said of his school system’s financial accountability: &uot;Last year, we had a perfect audit. It is my goal as your superintendent to make sure that continues to happen. There is no money missing.&uot;