BOE OK’s budget

Published 6:59 pm Friday, June 18, 2010

Despite a projected shortfall of more than $650,000, the Decatur County Board of Education adopted a fiscal year 2011 budget at the monthly meeting Thursday night.

The budget includes revenues of $35.9 million, an 8 percent decrease, or $2.9 million, from the 2010 budget and expenditures of $36.5 million, also an 8 percent decrease, or $2.82 million, from prior year. The system will begin the 2011 budget year with a reserve fund balance of $3.12 million after beginning last year with $5.25 million in reserves, said Tim Matthews, chief financial officer with the Board of Education.

Roughly 88 percent of the total expense budget for the system is comprised of salaries and benefits.

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Funding for the $650,000 gap in revenues and expenditures would have to come from one of two possible sources. The system could fund the gap from the existing reserve fund of $3.1 million or increase the local property tax millage rate.

Currently, the millage rate paid to the school system in Decatur County is 12.71. Preliminary estimates show that the net tax digest in the county will decrease by $29 million this year. In essence, the total value of the privately held property in the county decreased, Matthews said.

Because of the digest decrease, the system would have to increase the millage rate by 0.44 mils to get the same tax dollars as last year. An additional 0.34 mill increase would be needed to balance the budget. So, a millage rate of 13.49, an increase of 0.78 mils from last year’s 12.71, would be required to balance the system’s budget.

The board was able to decrease anticipated expenses for the next fiscal year by making numerous cuts throughout the system. The system will operate with 24 less full-time positions, accomplished through not replacing staff members who either retired or resigned. Those unfilled positions equate to $1.76 million in savings.

The anticipated savings from the expense cuts total $3.385 million. During the May meeting, the board approved expense cuts totaling $3.526 million. The board reversed itself Thursday night by removing the proposed reductions in compensation for employees with extended day and extended year responsibilities.

Those reductions would have resulted in expense cuts totaling $140,686.

Kendrick’s objections

The fiscal year 2011 budget was approved by a 5-1 vote, with District 1 Representative Clarissa Kendrick being the only dissenting vote.

“I voted no because there were no provisions in the budget to correct problems that I have presented to the board with the school bus situation in District 1,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick has long been critical of the way school children in District 1, which includes the Attapulgus area, are picked up by the county’s buses. The time of day when the children are picked up is also a point of contention with Kendrick.

During the meeting Thursday night, Kendrick compared the perceived treatment of the kids in District 1 with events in the year 1619.

“This incident reminds me of 1619, coming through history up until a certain period of time,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick was asked, via telephone, to elaborate on the significance of the year 1619 and how it relates to the busing arrangements in Decatur County.

“That is when the first slaves were brought to this country,” Kendrick said. “And some of the same things that have happened in African-American history is happening now.”

Personnel moves

The board also approved several personnel recommendations.

Resignations from the system include Jimmie Hill as the county’s special education director, Emily Bearden as math teacher at Bainbridge High School and Lisa Dobbs as a teacher at John Johnson Elementary.

Recommendations to hire include Patricia Hopkins as a custodian at Bainbridge High School, Maria Granados as a system migrant liaison, Jessie Toliver as a grounds keeper, Brenda Breedlove as a food assistant in the nutrition program, and Tresa Rayfield as a data clerk-secretary at Jones Wheat Elementary. Rayfield is the wife of incoming superintendent, Fred Rayfield.

This meeting also marked the final board meeting for Superintendent Ralph Jones. Jones’ retirement is effective June 30.