ANNISTON CITY SCHOOLS: Budget takes hit from sequestration, teacher raises
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
Sep 06, 2013 | 2823 views |  0 comments | 83 83 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although Anniston City Schools expect to see a drop in funding and increased costs for the coming year, school officials said Thursday its reserves can absorb the difference.

At the Board of Education’s first budget hearing, Chief School Financial Officer Jimmie Thompson III presented members with an approximately $20 million proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Superintendent Joan Frazier said two major items affected the preliminary budget figures: federal budget cuts known as sequestration and the 2 percent pay raise approved for teachers by the state legislature.

“The good news is we’re going to probably be ending the year with about a three-month reserve,” she said. The district will be able to dip into those funds to offset revenue losses in the coming fiscal year.

Frazier said that based on current estimates, the district could use between $500,000 and $800,000 of its reserves to balance the proposed budget. Thompson said last month the district had about $3.8 million in reserves on hand, amounting to about 2 3/4 months of reserves. The goal is to have more than $4 million by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

“This is why we have three months in reserves, so these things don’t wipe you out when they come around,” Frazier said.

Thompson said the district is down about $161,000 in federal funds from last year. The biggest declines have come in $92,000 of Title I funds, which are aimed at improving education achievement for the disadvantaged, and $41,000 in funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which are used for special education.

Declines in last year’s average daily membership — the average number of students who attend school over the first 20 days of the year — have caused a drop in the district’s state and local foundation funds as well. The net decline in membership of more than 224 spurred a loss of nearly $706,000.

Although the district does not have final salary numbers because all of its personnel have not been settled for the school year, Thompson said the 2 percent raise would likely cost the district more than $300,000 annually.

Thompson said revenue streams may continue to change and other items begin to firm up over the course of the next week. Board members will hold another hearing on Sept. 12 for revisions to the budget.

“Look at it, view it, massage it, but know next week it can be totally different,” he told them.

In other business, the board:

• Tabled a measure to approve installation of a school check-in system at Anniston High School in order to research cost of the system at all seven schools. The system would keep track of student sign-in and sign-out as well as some employees and school visitors. The cost of the system for only the high school is $2,238.40.

• Approved a field trip for the career technology accounting class to visit the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta on Oct. 23.

• Approved requests for use of the Anniston High School Performing Arts Center by Cheaha Creative Arts on Oct. 19 and by Golden Springs Baptist Church on Dec. 13 and Dec. 15.

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

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