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School board approves $30 million budget

By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
The Escambia County (Ala.) Board of Education adopted a $30 million budget Monday afternoon.
The budget was adopted by the narrowest of votes.
Board member Janice Ash made a motion to accept the budget excluding salary increases for any personnel "other than teachers." This motion eliminated budgeted increases for principals, directors, supervisors and support personnel.
However, those increases were included in the budget as mandated by the state.
When Ash made the motion to exclude the increases, board member W.J. Grissett was the first to remind her, "It's a state mandate."
Ash withdrew her motion to adopt the budget.
Danny Benjamin made the motion to adopt. Grissett seconded.
Jimmy Dukes, Grissett and Benjamin voted to adopt the budget. Ash voted no. Mike Goolsby and A.D. Johnson abstained. Roger Madden was not at the meeting.
The mandated pay increase is as follows:
n Certificated personnel (K-12) receive increases from 1 percent to 5.5 percent, based on years of service. This includes principals, assistant principals, supervisors, directors and teachers.
n Education support personnel (K-12) receive a 4 percent increase. This includes all support personnel.
n Aids also received a 4 percent pay increase.
Experience at other public schools is also included in years of experience at this school system. All experience is verified.
The following is a break-down of revenue sources and expenditures with dollar amounts and percentages of the total budget.
Revenues
State revenues – $20.4 million; 67.8 percent.
Federal revenues – $3.6 million; 12.1 percent.
Local revenues – $6 million; 20.1 percent.
Other sources – $14,705; less than 1 percent.
Expenditures
Instructional services (activities dealing directly with the interaction between teachers and students, including but not limited to teachers' salaries, benefits, classroom supplies) $17.6 million; 57.9 percent.
Instructional support services (student support, instructional staff support, educational media and local school administration) – $4.7 million; 15.6 percent, .
Operation and maintenance services – activities concerned with keeping the physical plant open, comfortable and safe for use and keeping the grounds, building and equipment in effective working condition and good state of repair) – $1.5 million; 5.2 percent.
Auxiliary services (activities and services functioning in a subsidiary capacity and lending assistance to the educational process. Included are student transportation services and food service operations) – $3.3 million; 10.8 percent.
General administrative services (activities concerned with establishing and administering policy for operating the school system) – $1.1 million; 3.9 percent.
Capital outlay (activities concerned with acquiring land and buildings, land and building improvements, building additions, and construction and architecture and engineering services) – $1.3 million; 4.5 percent.
Debt services (activities involved in servicing the long-term debt(s) of the school system) – $666,885; 2.2 percent.
Prior to the vote on the budget, several questions were asked by the board and audience. Business Operations Manager Julie Madden fielded the questions.
Some of the issues discussed included:
n the budget's $1 million deficit – The deficit is directly related to the board's three building projects – two new middle schools and a new gym.
This does not mean the school board has a $1 million deficit, but that the board will use $1 million of reserve funds. The board had previously approved the action.
This is not the first time the school board has had a deficit budget, Dukes said.
The ending fund balance is more than $4 million.
n grant funds – Madden said several grants are pending but are not included in the budget until the board is notified that the grants have been approved. She said at that time, the amounts will be budgeted and the board will address budget amendments to reflect the changes.
n funding for the alternative school – State mandates have decreased funding for the alternative school program and shifted at-risk funding. The board has the option to fund the program in order for it to continue with the current personnel intact. Dukes said the board will study the situation.
n teacher units – The state cut eight teacher units due to decreased enrollment. However, through retirements and transfers and using additional funding sources, the board was able to retain all employees. Other sources, such as federal funds and grants, are used for those salaries.
Note: An article on at-risk funding will appear in Sunday's edition of The Advance.