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Opp BOE adopts FY 2004 budget

In a rescheduled meeting of the Opp Board of Education Thursday evening, the board passed unanimously the budget for the 2003-4 school year.

"The projected revenue is $9.9 million," said Opp City Schools Superintendent Dr. Timothy Lull. "The projected expenditures are $9.9 million, with excess revenue of about $38,000."

Lull told the board that this year's budget was 66 percent of what it was four years ago, with the steady cuts being made due both to proration and the drop of revenues as industries have left Opp. Dropping interests rates have also affected the school's budget.

"We've taken a beating on interest rates," said Lull.

Because of those factors, Lull told the board they have constructed a "very conservative budget" as they did last year.

The budget was passed after two readings Thursday, and Lull provided a comprehensive breakdown including line-item estimates and definitions of the terms. It also included a break down of the expected revenues, their amounts and sources.

€ Total state revenues - $5,682,737

€ Total federal revenues - $1,113,485

€ Total local revenues - $1,636,539

Instructional services made up the large portion of the expected expenditures at $4,947,597, combined with instructional support services at $1,109,436. Administration services are expected to cost the system $410,720 and operation and maintenance costs are estimated at close to a million, at $927,852. Auxiliary services are estimated to be $583,177 and capital outlay will be approximately

$1,484,519. The debt service is $115,000 and other expenditures were estimated to run about $361,868.

"We're going to be out of debt as of the end of September," Lull said. The system currently owes for the asbestos loan, which Lull estimated will be paid off by then. Another debt the school holds, which was for the new roof work at Opp High School, will be paid for by flex funds, through the state.

The bulk of the state's contribution to the budget for the 2003-4 year is Foundation funds, totaling $5,309,485. This includes the one-time funding the state promised earlier this year to prevent drastic employee and program reduction in the face of proration. At an earlier meeting, Lull mentioned that this stop-gap measure gave many residents the wrong impression of fund availability. He told the board at that time that the threat of proration and instructions from the State Board of Education had them cutting positions and redesigning schedules and that when the Foundation funds came through, it made them look as though they were "crying wolf."

In other business, the board approved two policy changes that affect student enrollment requirements and worthless checks. The enrollment policy, which required students have residency, a social security number, a birth certificate, proof of immunizations,

and transcripts or records, was changed to make allowances for children who are homeless, migrant, non-English speaking and/or disabled.

"If a kid falls into those categories, he's excluded from having to have all that," said Earl Weeks, special education coordinator. "They don't even have to have a blue card. They just show up."

Weeks explained that the policy change was to bring the system's policies into compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act.

Lull stressed the importance of the changes, adding that this insured that every child's educational needs would be met.

"We have to do a survey every year to determine if there are any homeless children," he said.

The other policy change involved bad checks, and the addition of a "Worthless Check Policy." The policy included a $25 non-sufficient funds (NSF). Those who write worthless checks to the schools will have to reimburse the original amount written as well as the fee, and must pay with cash or a money order. They will receive a letter requesting payment, and if they do not respond within 10 days, they will receive a certified letter. If another 10 days pass with no response, the check will be turned over to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution.

The policy also stated that if two bad checks were received from the same person, no checks would again be accepted from that person; and that non-public funds must be used to cover any insufficient checks in state, federal or public accounts.