Proration forces schools to cut budgets

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, November 19, 2009

After Gov. Bob Riley declared 7.5 percent proration in the 2009-10 education budget earlier this year, local school systems were left wondering where the cuts would take place. Now, school systems know exactly which parts of their budget will need to be amended — and most of the trimming will need to take place in the Foundation Program, which is primarily used for staff salaries.

In the Andalusia City Schools, the system was originally set to receive approximately $9.4 million from state and local funding. Under proration, the system will now receive $8.78 million — a difference of approximately $630,600.

The largest cut was in the Foundation Program (cut of $578,200); but sizeable cuts were also made in allocations for transportation ($29,500), school nurses program ($8,800) and the Alabama Reading Initiative ($5,000).

Much of the pain of proration has been blunted by an influx of federal money, primarily from the stimulus package. The ACS is set to receive approximately $2.74 million in federal funding, and that funding will remain intact even after proration.

Approximately $410,000 of that funding is from the state’s “fiscal stabilization fund,” which is money from the stimulus package to help state school systems deal with the sting of proration. However, that money will not be available after the year 2011, when the federal stimulus will be completely expended. Other budget gaps will need to be filled by dipping into system reserves.

“One thing we do have this year that we did not have last year is the fiscal stabilization fund,” ACS chief financial officer Jean Sellers said at the Andalusia Board of Education meeting Monday evening. “We will not have that after this year.”

Sellers added it is possible there could be additional proration announced for this year’s budget, but no announcement would be likely before Jan. 1, 2010.

Other county systems will also see heavy cuts to their budgets. In the Covington County Schools, the largest cuts will be in the Foundation Program ($1.09 million), transportation ($125,000) and the Alabama Reading Initiative ($25,000). The CCS is receiving $780,000 in fiscal stabilization funds.

In the Opp City Schools, the largest cuts are to the Foundation Program ($502,000), transportation ($26,500) and the school nurses program ($8,000). The OCS is receiving $333,800 in fiscal stabilization funds.