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Tentative 2012 budget includes more expenditures than revenue

The McDuffie County school board will be asked tonight to approve a tentative budget for fiscal year 2012 that includes $1.8 million more in expenditures than the system will have in revenue.

The tentative budget was presented to the board at its planning meeting Tuesday morning.

It was to have been presented to the board at its meeting last month, but an additional state cut of $4,167,306, which the system learned of shortly after its April 28 budget meeting, forced officials to go back to the drawing board.

Final approval of the budget is scheduled for a called board meeting at 5 p.m. June 30.

Comptroller Tom Smalley told the board Tuesday that the system's current fund balance is roughly $5.6 million, but he said in a later interview with The McDuffie Mirror that he expects that to drop to about $5.1 million before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30.

The $1.8 million shortfall in the next fiscal year's budget would be covered by the fund balance.

Before the most recent state cuts, school officials had planned on a 20 percent reduction in every department.

Superintendent Jim LeBrun said he has frozen expenditures except for those that are absolutely necessary for the rest of the fiscal year.

The system also reduced its matching portion of health insurance benefits for certified employees by about $400,000, based on the employer rates remaining the same as fiscal year 2011.

Other savings were achieved by moving some textbook, technology and maintenance expenses to the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax fund.

THE BOARD ALSO heard a presentation from Kenna Scraggs of Parrish Construction Group on Phase 1 of the Brickyard renovation and expansion of the weight room at Thomson High School.

Scraggs presented a guaranteed maximum price of $2,324,116 for Phase 1, which will include the addition of seats to the visitors side and end zone of the football stadium, a new scoreboard and other improvements.

Expansion of seating on the home side of the stadium, as well as a track and soccer complex at Thomson High, will be part of Phase 2, which LeBrun said depends on approval of SPLOST V by voters in November.

Phase 1 is being covered by funds voters approved as part of SPLOST IV.

The superintendent said he hopes Phase 2, which would roughly double the stadium's seating capacity, can be completed for the beginning of the 2012 football season.

In other action, David Moton, the school system's nutrition director, presented plans for redesign of the Thomson High School cafeteria.

One plan would increase capacity from its current 325 to about 350, Moton said, at a cost of about $100,000.

A second plan would create a food court and increase capacity to 420, but at a cost of about $144,000, which Moton said was "too much."

However, he said food courts increase students' cafeteria participation by as much as 20 percent.

Both proposals came from a company called Food Court Design. Moton said he sought proposals from another company but did not receive them in time.

LeBrun suggested that he seek proposals from other vendors and bring them back to the board.

The changes would likely not be made until the Christmas holiday break.

Technical Director Bob Weems told the board that he has deployed 150 of 350 new computers to schools and hopes to have the rest in place soon. He also said that overhead projectors are now in 80 percent of the school system's classrooms.

Web posted on Thursday, June 09, 2011

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