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.”
Superintendent Braziel said the need to increase technology within the county’s schools, even with reduced spending in other areas, is vital.
“We just met on digital conversion and the steps we need to take to create a digital learning environment and looking for funds. That is a critical need, and having staff to do it,” she said. “Last year we’ve written four grants, but unfortunately we didn’t receive them. We will continue to look for grant funds for technology.”
The school board is slated to approve a final budget for FY14 after it is advertised in The Union-Recorder for two weeks.
“We will continue, like this year, spending wisely and not purchasing things we don’t need and being cautious of the budget,” Braziel said.
In other business, the board:
• approved minutes for the meetings held on April 8, 9 and 24;
• approved personnel recommendations as presented;
• approved the recommendation to dissolve all board committees as presented;
• approved financial reports for the school district and the Early Learning Center (ELC);
• approved the ELC’s FY13-14 Budget Revision for Policy Council approval, Budget Revision Justification and FY12 Budget Revision Details, Transportation Waiver Request Sequestration, Provider Technology Letter and Pre-K Classroom Refurbishment Guidance as presented;
• approved sole source purchase recommendations;
• approved the renewal of the custodial contract with the Budd Group;
• approved field trip recommendations for Baldwin High School NJROTC;
• approved the use of facility request from the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office to use the GNETS of Oconee building for the annual Junior Deputy Camp slated the week of June 10;
• approved the use of bus request from the Boys & Girls Club of Baldwin and Jones Counties to transport youth to the Rocket Roller Rink during the summer;
• approved the recommendation for approval of the Perkins IV Program Improvement Grant Local Plan for CTAE; and
• heard the sales and use tax fund report presented by Braziel.
The school board’s next regular meeting is slated for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11 at the board office.
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