Amidst recent talks across the state of cuts to pre-K funding and continued austerity reductions from the state; and keeping in mind the need for a new elementary school facility and a renovated football stadium, members of the McDuffie County Board of Education met April 28 to discuss the system's tentative budget for fiscal year 2012.
"It appears the state's revenue is building back up, but they're continuing to cut," School Superintendent Jim LeBrun said. "Hopefully, next year we won't have cuts."
Each department head turned in a budget that was reduced by 20 percent from 2011. Yet the system continues to operate in the black and will not need to lay off employees this year or raise the millage, LeBrun said.
As he made his presentation, Comptroller Tom Smalley pointed out that the system should begin on July 1 with $4 million balance in general funds. LeBrun told board members that amount was less than the 15 percent administrators would like to keep in reserve.
"We're not there yet," he said, "but the fact that we have a balance means we're in great shape compared to many of our neighbors."
The proposed budget expenditure requirement is approximately $31.56 million, with revenue from the state being $20.7 million, ad valorem taxes bringing in $9,465,000 and rent revenue adding $152,000.
The proposed budget will be presented for the board's approval at the regular school board meeting on May 12.
In response to questions from board members, LeBrun said plans are to cut pre-K to 160 instructional days. He said the system will keep all seven teachers, even though state allotments only provide for six.
"Rather than tell 22 parents that their kids are not in pre-K next year, we will pay for it out of our local funds," he said. "I am committed to that."
Discussion included spending the rest of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV funds on technology, building maintenance, the Brickyard and weight room expansion and equipment.
"Not everyone realizes that we would not have any computers newer than 1992 Apple IIc's if it weren't for SPLOST because the state does not pay for that," Smalley said.
Board members unanimously approved Eagle Utility Contracting Co.'s bid for $70,7771.25, jointly with the City of Thomson, to move a water main beneath the bleachers of the Brickyard. The school system is partnering with the city on the project, and bids were accepted by the city. The school system's portion is $47,138. Work begins the Monday after graduation.