Proration puts damper on budgets

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 5, 2010

Superintendent Terry Holley said Tuesday there is a good chance the state will declare an additional 2 percent of proration before Sept. 30.

Holley made the disclosure after chief financial officer Shauna Robertson presented the board with the system’s monthly financial reports.

A 10-month analysis of collections ending July 31, 2010, compared to that ending July 2009, showed a $166 increase in sales tax collections; a $4,161 increase in ad valorem taxes; a $12,854 decrease in district ad valorem collections; and a $6,7601 decrease in the “10-mill” ad valorem tax.

“Which basically means, collections are flat (for the system),” Robertson said. “When the numbers were released for the state education budget for 2011, we knew they were too good to be true. At this point, I think that with attrition and our reserves, coupled with the board’s past decisions, that’s set us up at a good spot.

“Now, 2012, there won’t be any stabilization funds,” she said, speaking of stimulus money from the federal government. “That’s going to be a different year all together.”

Currently, proration is set at 7 percent statewide.

“If the state does declare that additional 2 percent, that would put us at 9 percent proration,” said Holley. “In looking at things, the (state) general fund is doubly worse off than the education trust fund (where monies are drawn to fund education statewide). Here in Covington County, we’re going to take things day by day. Instruction is going to take priority over everything else. We’ve got to look at things down the road.

“Still, we are very fortunate to be in the situation we are,” he said.

While other systems statewide were cutting teachers because of funding issues, Holley said in May, the system would have to begin the upcoming school year with three fewer teachers.

School board members have continually quoted the motto, “planning for tomorrow, today” as they worked to fund local education in the wake of flat sales tax revenue collections and diminishing state funds.

State education department records indicate that as of Jan. 1, 2010, the county school system had $13.6 million in its reserve account, or operating funds for 219 days.

In other business, the board:

• welcomed approximately 15 new employees to the system.

• voted to employ Alison Lee Huggins as alternative school teacher at the central office.

• adopted each school’s handbook as board policy.

• set the next meeting date as Tues., Sept. 7, at 4:30 p.m.