The budget shrank by about 6 percent from last year’s $22.6 million and includes a loss of more than $700,000, or 5.9 percent, in some state and local funds.
Those declines are due to shrinking enrollment, which fell by more than 224 students to nearly 2,027 for the beginning of the 2012-13 school year. The board approved the budget on Thursday.
Last week, Chief School Financial Officer Jimmie Thompson said the district’s federal revenue was also reduced under across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, particularly programs to support disadvantaged students and special education.
But the revised budget includes more than $500,000 in additional local money from last week’s proposed budget, which board member Bill Robison said includes a $500,000 fund that members of the Anniston City Council committed to setting aside for schools in a recent city budget session. At that meeting, Mayor Vaughn Stewart called the money an “innovation fund” that will go toward funding specific projects to improve classroom or other programs.
Board President Donna Ross said the board’s focus is to improve the academic experience, which they hope to do with a list of ideas members submitted to the council last month, which includes music teachers and a program to help those who left or are in danger of not completing high school gain a diploma.
Board member William Hutchings said he appreciates the commitment by the council.
“This is the best time in Anniston that we have seen that the council and mayor have been willing to give more money,” he said. “We’ll give them accountability.”
Board member mary Klinefelter said Thompson told board members that he will account for the city’s funds separately so board and council members or others who are interested can see how the money is being spent.
Although Superintendent Joan Frazier said at last week’s initial budget hearing that she expects the school system to dip into reserves to cover added expenses and loss of revenue, the approved budget shows a projected increase in reserves at the close of the next fiscal year.
Ross said the district should maintain three months’ worth of reserves in the general operating fund under the spending plan approved Thursday.
Last week, Thompson said the district had $3.8 million in reserves and expected to have $4.2 million by the end of the month. Next year’s budget as adopted projects maintaining nearly $4.4 million by the next fiscal year.
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.