MILLEDGEVILLE — The Baldwin County Board of Education did not come to a full agreement on a Fiscal Year 2014 budget Tuesday. Though approved, board member Lyn Chandler cast the one dissenting vote.
The school board did adopt a revenue budget of $39.2 million and expenditure budget of $39.3 million as its FY14, resulting in a projected $112,000 shortfall.
With the budget being $112,000 away from being balanced, Chandler of District 3 was the only board member who voted against approving the budget as “it’s absolutely critical to begin the year with a balanced budget.”
“There’s uncertainty with the economic times we’re in and I’m not comfortable with this budget. Once we accomplish this task, I think we need to take a hard look of the allocation of money, particularly in the area dealing with academics and the graduation rate,” Chandler said after the meeting. “[School Superintendent Geneva Braziel] indicated she will look at the budget and look for ways to balance it; I’m comfortable she will. Overall, [the school system] has done a great job and it’s the closest we’ve been in a number of years, but it’s still not a balanced budget. We will get there.”
The budget indicates the system will generate $16 million from local property taxes next fiscal year. State and federal monies are anticipated to produce around $22 million, for a total of $46 million in overall available revenues which is $401,000 more compared to last year. Saranna Charping, chief financial officer for the public school system, said the growth in student population has increased state revenues for the coming fiscal year.
“We eliminated 30 positions through attrition to save approximately $2 million. All employees continue to have six reduction days except bus drivers who have four reduction days because they have to drive when students are in school,” Charping said. “Our budget is 85 percent salaries and benefits. It’s been a process of reducing lots of positions through attrition and any other operating expenses that we could control like utilities to get to this budget.”
Budget expenditures include $26 million for instruction, $800,000 for improvement to instructional services, $3 million for maintenance and operation, $3 million for school administration and $3 million for student transportation.
“I feel like this is a very lean budget and a lot of work went into it. I feel confident throughout the school year that there will be other areas where we can hopefully find savings, and the superintendent will continue to work diligently to maintain our budget,” said board chairman John Noah Jackson of District 4. “I would like to thank the staff, superintendent and the board for working as hard as we are to get a balanced budget. I’ve been on the board for five years and this is the closest it has ever been balanced.”
In other business, the board:
• approved of minutes for the meetings held on May 13 and 14;
• approved personnel recommendations;
• approved financial reports for the school district and the Early Learning Center;
• approved revisions to Bylaws as presented;
• approved sole source and bid purchases, and a sealed bid;
• approved school food and supply purchase recommendations for award;
• approved the contract with Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) to review and revise the manual;
• approved revised board policies to be tabled for 30 days;
• approved a bus use request from the Oconee Center for its summer program;
• approved GSBA insurance renewal authorization;
• approved the class size Resolution for FY14; and
• heard the sales and use tax fund report from Braziel.
The school board is slated to next meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 9 at the board office.
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