School budgets tightened by state cuts

Published 11:10 am Tuesday, March 1, 2011

By KATIE HURST/ Lifestyles Edtior

Governor Robert Bentley announced shortfalls in the state’s education budget Feb. 28, declaring 3 percent proration in the Education Trust Fund effective immediately.

He also announced plans to declare 15 percent proration in the state’s general fund in the near future.

According to a press release, the Alabama Department of Finance and the Department of Revenue discovered shortfalls in the Education Trust Fund budget and the state’s general fund due to the depletion of federal stimulus money.

The current Education Trust Fund budget has a $165 million shortfall while the current General Fund budget has a $110 million shortfall.

“Both our Education Trust Fund and our state’s General Fund budgets are based on unreliable revenue projections,” said Governor Bentley in a press release. “Now, five months into the 2011 fiscal year, it is clear that there is not enough revenue to sustain either budget. Proration is necessary to balance the budgets.”

The mid-year cuts will have an effect on the Shelby County Schools budget, said Gary McCombs, assistant superintendent of finance and chief financial officer for the district.

“The governor’s declaration of 3 percent proration will have an impact of approximately $3.8 million on our school district’s reserves,” McCombs said. “We will continue to monitor our expenditures such as travel, energy costs and personnel positions. Personnel will closely be monitored through attrition, resignations and retirements.”

The state’s finance director David Perry said in a press release the proration is simply the state’s attempt to live within its means.

“The taxpayers expect us to live within our means just as families and businesses are forced to do,” said Perry. “No one is pleased that we have a revenue shortfall which requires proration in the budgets that were passed last year, but mid-year cuts are necessary for Alabama to meet its constitutional obligation for a balanced budget.”