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County schools consider $12.6 million budget


Bonnie Coblentz



School board members got their first look Monday night at the tight, $12.6 million budget the Oktibbeha County School District plans to operate with for the 2010-2011 school year. 


Superintendent James Covington presented the budget in a public hearing, and the board will vote to adopt the final budget next Monday. The proposed budget was drawn up with some cuts in personnel. It calls for $11.8 million in expenditures, leaving a difference of $788,588 in unbudgeted revenue. 


"The board has set a goal to increase the fund balance by 1 percent each year. The state requires a 7 percent fund balance, but the board wants 8 percent," Covington said. "We have implemented cost-saving methods necessary to meet our goal." 


Covington said the district used historic data to calculate figures for the current budget. 


"If we live within these, the budget should work," he said. 


Personnel are the biggest expense in a school district''s budget, and the Oktibbeha County School District had to cut about 12 teacher assistant positions to reduce expenses. They lost three teachers to retirement or moves out of the district, and so were not forced to eliminate any certified staff members. 


"We''re simply just tightening the belt even more," Covington said. "The belt was already tight." 


He said the district is hoping the U.S. Congress will pass a relief bill to give the state about $100 million earmarked for education. The district''s portion of this money could allow it to restore some of the lost positions. 


The proposed budget has $3.8 million of revenue from local sources, $4.2 million from the state and $4 million from the federal government. Instruction and support services take up the bulk of expenditures, accounting for $5.9 million and $4.7 million, respectively. 


Last year, the district operated on an $11.6 million budget with budgeted expenditures of $10.8 million. The district taxes at the state-maximum 55-mill rate. 


The board will vote on the final budget Monday at 6 p.m.




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