Bracing for proration

Published 4:58 pm Sunday, March 1, 2009

By By Adam Prestridge
Chief School Financial Officer Julie Madden’s calculator has been working overtime as she prepared to put proration into perspective for Escambia County School Board members Thursday afternoon.
Madden first presented the board with good news that the system’s current fund balance is $11.5 million, an unusually high figure for the month. The joyful feeling was short lived when she announced that most of the county’s tax revenue had been received and the local funds would soon be dipped into as state allocations begin to decrease.
Madden then explained in detail the system’s budget amendment, which reflected the nine percent proration the county was dealt last year. Under proration, the county’s foundation program allocations, which are funded by the state, will be cut by a total of $2,418,362, with a bulk of the funds, $2,048,479, in the form of teacher salaries and benefits, textbooks and professional development. Also included is a reduction in transportation operations funding of $277,825, Fleet (bus) renewal funding of $31,666 and $60,392 in other state-funded programs including school nurses, technology coordinator, High Hopes, At-Risk, State Preschool, Children’s First, ESL, PASS and Community Education.
Fortunately for the school board, local funds will be able to help the county make it through the remainder of the year. According to a budget analysis, $1,807,179 will be transferred from the system’s local funds to cover the reduction in foundation money. With the amended budget, $781,695 is now allotted for transportation out of local funds.
Although proration will be a blow to the county, one positive Madden said is that the state is allowing the system to carryover funds from last year’s budget.
The state carryover funds total $45,548 and the federal carryover funds add up to $377,018.
When it’s all said and done, the system will face of deficit of $3,489,179 in its ending fund balance, which is now budgeted to be $5,670,863, compared to its beginning balance on Oct. 1, 2008, which was $9,160,042.
Madden added that it is “nice” to have the local funds available to help make it through proration.
She added that not only have property taxes helped offset the state cuts, but so has community support.
With support like this, the county has not had to cut any after-school or summer programs, Madden said.
In other business, the board,
Leave of Absence, Gloria Smith, bus driver, Atmore Bus Shop, leave of absence, effective one-half day Jan. 12, 2009 (Amended); Susan Hartley, teacher, Rachel Patterson Elementary School, maternity leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, effective March 2, 2009; Judy Boutwell, lunchroom worker, Escambia County High School, leave of absence, effective one-half day Feb. 27, 2009 and Margot Minchew, lunchroom worker, W.S. Neal Elementary School, leave of absence, effective Feb. 6, 2009;
Resignation, Jacquelyn Carlee, secretary, Escambia County High School, effective Jan. 5, 2009;
Retirement, Deborah Stabler, teacher, Escambia County High School, effective Feb. 1, 2009 and Larry Tindell, teacher, W.S. Neal High School, effective April 1, 2009
Employment, Kelli Grace, cheerleader sponsor, W.S. Neal High School, effective March 2, 2009 and Brigitte Hoomes, career-technical route bus driver, Brewton Bus Shop, effective Feb. 3, 2009.

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