Opp BOE makes plans for proration

Published 8:29 pm Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gov. Bob Riley announced across the board cuts to the state’s education budget earlier this week, but effective planning will allow the Opp City Schools system to retain its structural integrity.

Linda Banks, chief financial officer for Opp City Schools, presented a financial plan to members of the Opp Board of Education Thursday morning that will allow the school system to minimize the impact of the 12.5 percent statewide proration.

“I can start by saying that I think no one in the state was prepared for the 12.5 percent,” she said. “That caught us off guard. The percentage was a little bit more than we expected, but we knew it was coming.

“We were able to carry over some of our state funds in anticipation of this,” she added. “We have $183,000 we were able to carry over from state funds. We are going to have to tap into that to help us get through. We have also identified some Sixteenth Section Funds we were able to hold on to. We thought we would be able to use it for the new school for furniture and different things, but I think we are going to have to use it to help us get through proration.”

Banks said OCS will also be able to utilize $38,635 from the Public School Fund to help ease the impact of impending funding cuts.

“We also looked at the classroom instructional fund from the foundation and we were able to take $22,003 there,” she said. “That will mean the teachers will not have part of their technology money, so it will have a small impact on the classroom.

Banks said the total calculated pool of funds accrued to help soften the blow of proration will total approximately $405,000.

“We feel like, best case scenario of 5.5 percent, we can get by with the $405,000 we have identified,” she said. “We are cutting out professional development travel. Any area we can cut back on we will.”

Banks added that the current plan does not include cuts to staff, but the future is still uncertain at this point.

“I think this is going to be a situation we have to evaluate in the spring when we have a better picture of what the actual amount is going to be,” she said. “We hope we do not have to get into personnel. We hope that through retirements and possibly not replacing those positions we can keep the staff we have.”

Personnel matters were quite the opposite during Thursday’s meeting. Board members approved the hiring of Shawn Short to fill the role of assistant principal at Opp Middle School and Missy Mims as graduation coach at Opp High School.

“I want to commend the board on the personnel decisions,” OCS superintendent Michael Smithart said of the decision to hire Short and Mims. “I know in a time when we are cutting people make look at the decision and say ‘why are you employing people when you are talking about cuts?’ Although we may be seeing a reduction in funds, it does not change the fact that our students have needs.”