The Baldwin County Board of Education approved a tentative budget for fiscal year 2014 Tuesday with projected expenditures reduced even further by $68,000. The tentative revenue budget stands at $39.2 million and preliminary expenditure budget is $39.3 million as of Monday’s work session.
“We originally had $180,000 more in expenditures than revenues. We’ve had change in personnel, and with those savings, we’re now at $112,000 in expenditures more than revenues in our tentative budget,” said Saranna Charping, chief financial officer for the public school system. “This year we’ve done a lot better than projected; about $1 million better. That’s through different personnel positions not being filled, doing better in utilities and our administrative budget. Everything looks good for this year; it’s better than projected.”
The school system projected to go into the fund balance by almost $2 million at the first of the year. With adjustments made during the school year, Charping projects to go into reserves by $400,000.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty with the economy, and I wish we had a balanced budget. We can’t spend money we don’t have, and that fund balance takes care of unforeseen things,” board member Lyn Chandler of District 3 said during Monday’s work session. “If we keep corroding it, then pretty soon we won’t have funds. I’m concerned that we’re not setting aside money ... and that to me is absolutely critical. I encourage [the school system] to continue working toward the deficit we have and balance the budget as soon as possible.”
School board chair John Noah Jackson of District 4 said finding ways to decrease expenditures even further will “cut departments by 10 percent across the board.”
“It would be nice to have a balanced budget, but $112,000 is about the best budget I’ve seen since I’ve been on the board. There’s going to be uncertainties because we don’t know what’s going to happen with the state, there could be a lawsuit, or bus failure, but we have to keep finding creative ways to do things,” he said. “[Charping and School Superintendent Geneva Braziel] have done an outstanding job.”