The school system’s proposed total budget is $24.3 million about $800,000 more than the fiscal year 2013 budget and includes dipping into reserves for about $300,000.
The budget absorbs a 10 percent across the board cut in federal dollars which meant the system had to use a lot more local money to provide the same service, Superintendent Claire Dryden said.
The cuts were partially offset by an increase in funding from the Alabama State Department of Education which increased from $16.5 million to $17.7 million. The system received the increase because its enrollment was up last school year, Dryden said.
“State funding is always a year behind,” Dryden said.
The money the school system has the most flexibility in spending is local funding and a small amount of state funding called other current expenses, Dryden said.
The system uses that money to address local priorities including hiring additional teachers and aides, reading coaches and nurses beyond what the state funds. It also pays for extracurricular activities such as band and athletics, and the balance of the cost to provide services like transportation and textbooks. For instance, the state pays the system $31.35 for text books, but the average textbook costs $75, Dryden said.
This year the system has 2,595 students and 319 employees, Dryden said. The enrollment is almost identical to last school year’s enrollment of 2,597. But staffing has increased from 310 last school year. The increase includes eight more teachers and two more administrators, but a decrease in support personnel.
Dryden said at the first budget hearing on Monday that the budget reflects her opinion that the money is best spent in the classroom.
“You can purchase all the materials you want and if you don’t have quality teachers in there and smaller groups to instruct, then you’ve wasted your money,” Dryden said.
Board member Hope Lee said she is happy with the budget overall.
“We can always use more money, but Mrs. (Claire) Dryden is doing a wonderful job with streamlining,” Lee said.
Lee said she was pleased the system was able to cut the amount of money set aside for maintenance and repair of the facilities. The system set aside $119,000 this year versus $264,000 in last year’s budget, she said. The change was because the system was able to do a number of the repairs needed, she said.
The new budget will go into effect on Oct. 1.
Staff writer Laura Camper 256-473-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.