City schools present budget

July 15, 2009



Starkville School District board members heard details on the 2009-2010 budget in a public hearing that didn''t really have an audience. 


The full board minus Bill Weeks was present for the budget presentation, but only two members of the media and one representative of both the PTA and Parents for Public Schools were in attendance. 


Superintendent Judy Couey said the budget is based on the figures they used earlier in planning. While full Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding was granted in June, she expects some to be rescinded later. 


"We have all been told to anticipate a cut mid-year, so we will be as conservative as possible the next two years and try to weather a possible (cut) when the stimulus money runs out in two years," she said. 


The federal stimulus money given to the state for school districts was not given on top of regular MAEP funding, but instead makes up some of the shortfall caused by the economic downturn. 


"It''s filling in for the state revenues that aren''t there," Couey said. 


She said total MAEP funding for the 2009-2010 school year is $18.26 million. Total operational mills, the amount taxed property owners in the Starkville School District, is 53.68 mills. When the other taxes, such as the bond issue, are added in, taxpayers in the school district will pay 62.31 mills. 


In 2008-2009, the district taxed at 62.65 mills. The slight decrease is because a small portion of the district''s limited tax note came off last year, said Rob Logan, school district comptroller. 


Projected revenues for the district are $56.95 million, with projected expenditures at $55.12 million. These figures include the final $11.6 million in bond issue money the district has yet to issue. They expect $3 million of it to be an interest-free loan, compliments of the federal stimulus money. 


The district has not received confirmation that it has received this money, but Couey said she thinks the district will receive it. 


"The people who did not get it have been notified," she said. 


Logan said this 0 percent loan will save the district about $980,000 over the 15-year life of the bond. 


When all figures are tallied, Logan said he expects a district maintenance fund balance of about $1.6 million, which is close to the 5 percent the state Department of Education wants school district to hold in reserve. 


Couey said the district made the budget balance by careful planning and taking some steps such as freezing certain stipends and making savings in transportation. 


"We''re trying to do what we can to anticipate these cuts," she said. "We all know ... (the stimulus) money is propping up MAEP, and it is only a limited time it will do this." 


Looking ahead at school district indebtedness, the district has three bills that will roll off in coming years. A MAEP loan will be paid off about 2018, the 1995-1996 bond issue in about 2015 and the 3-mill tax note in four more years, Logan said. 


The board will vote on their budget at a noon meeting July 21 in the Greensboro Center.