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School board approves budget of $34.3 million

The McDuffie County Board of Education gave final approval last week to a budget of $34,278,719 for the 2011-12 school year.

The budget includes $1.8 million more in expenditures than it has in revenue, and the shortfall will be covered from the system's current fund balance, which is roughly $5 million, according to Comptroller Tom Smalley.

However, the board also discovered another source of revenue at its June 30 meeting. Linda Thurmond, the chief appraiser for McDuffie County, appeared before the board to ask for a payment of $7,200, its portion of the cost of cell phone tower audits from 2008 to 2010 that generated about $30,000 for the school system.

Superintendent Jim LeBrun said approval of the payment was a "no-brainer" because the audits will continue to provide revenue to the system.

"We will have some bills from the tax assessor's office that we did not anticipate," he said. "The good news is that we will have revenue above that that we did not anticipate as well."

Thurmond explained that the audits are necessary because the county does not have the expertise to determine the value of the towers. But they also generate revenue, and the school board receives the largest portion of that -- about 48 percent.

However, that money was not included in the budget for the coming school year, which the board approved in a special called meeting.

Final approval of the budget had been expected at the June 9 meeting, but state cuts forced administrators to revise the tentative budget.

The board also approved a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot to continue the special-purpose local action sales tax. If voters approve, the system would begin receiving funds from the tax on Jan. 1, 2013.

LeBrun emphasized that the tax would be a continuation of the existing penny tax, not a new tax. It is expected to generate $23,7 million for the school system, he said.

The board also approved appointment of Claude Powell as principal of the McDuffie Achievement Center. He succeeds Cecil Strong, who was named the principal of Thomson High School at the June 9 meeting.

Kim Tam was named assistant principal at Maxwell Elementary School. Tam succeeds Suzanne Arrington, who resigned.

Web posted on Thursday, July 07, 2011

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