School Board reviews budget with public

By Joseph McCain The Winston County Journal

The Louisville Municipal School District trustees and administrators reviewed the district’s budget during a public hearing recently.

The 2012-13 budget does rely on district’s reserve funds and is aimed at no millage increase for the district.

“We are not anticipating a tax increase,” said Superintendent William Wade. “The economy is tough on everybody but we are obligated to educate our children the best we can but must be aware of the taxpayers’ monies and spend them wisely.”

The Louisville Municipal School District budget for 2012-2013 is about $26,330,973 in expenses with projected revenues of $24,922,264. This planned budget uses $1,408,708 of the funds on reserve with the district.

“It is a fund balance saved by the previous administration that helps during times like these,” said Dr. Wade.

Of the expenses for the district, instructional cost for the district’s estimated 2700 students covers 54 percent of the budget. Support Services is 36 percent of the expenses with non instruction at 7 percent, debt service at 2 percent and 16th section costs at 1 percent.

Instructional costs are all expenditures that occur in the classroom such as teaching supplies, salaries and benefits of teachers and assistants, textbooks and other items. Support services includes supplies, travel, staff development, auditor fees, legal fees, utilities, fuel, and staff positions such as Counselors, School Nurse, Speech Pathologist, Librarians, Superintendent, School Board, Administrators, Principals, Finance Personnel, Maintenance, Security, Custodians, Bus Drivers, Technology personnel, and Computer lab technicians. Non instructional costs include cafeteria food purchases, operating supplies for cafeteria, travel, equipment and staff positions such as Food Service Director, Cafeteria Managers, Cafeteria Employees, Parent Liaison at Fair Elementary. Debt service is the payment on the principal and Interest for the 3 Mill Note set in 2008. Sixteen section land costs which come from Sixteen Section lad revenues is for advertising leases, timber management (Forestry Commission) and maintaining timber crops.

Projected revenues for district are $6,670,624 from local millage, $13,127,826 from state allocations, $4,779,815 from federal allocations and $344,000 from 16th Section revenues.

Local revenues come from taxes on real property in the county and provides 27 percent of the funding for the district. The district presently has a 53.75 millage rate.

State revenues make up the bulk of the district’s funding at 53 percent but the state has continued to cut funds to school districts across the state. Cuts to the LMSD from the state have been over $1.8 million in the last three years according to Wade. The state’s funding formula for each district is based up average daily attendance, number of at-risk students in district, with a 8 percent guaranteed funding.

Wade noted that while the state has continued to cut funding that the state laws that require the district provide salary increases to experienced teachers each year which costs the district about $650,000 more each year.

Federal funds make up about 19 percent of the budget and are based on federal allocations to the state.

Sixteen section funds which may only be spent on specific items according to state laws makes up about 1 percent of the funds for the district and is received from land leases and timber sales mainly.

Dr. Wade illustrated that the district had the correct focus with the highest percentage of the district’s funds going to instruction costs and keeping teacher to student ratio low.

“We use our funds to hire fully certified teachers and keep class sizes small,” said Dr. Wade. “Of course, class size will increase and other hard choices will have to be made if the economy continues to tighten.”

The district averages a 12 to 1 student/teacher ratio for the district with the ratio differing according to school and grade. The district is also one of the largest employers in the county with 400 employees with 216 of those as certified teachers. The district also boasts 20 Nationally Certified teachers in the district with over 81 percent of the teachers in the district holding advanced degrees.

The district has also invested in technology and has 1 computer available for every 4.5 students. The district budget hearing also served as the hearing on technology in the classroom as part of the district’s application for federal grants for technology.

Although the district has 85 percent of students with free or reduced meals over 81 percent of the students in the district pursue post- secondary education.

Bobby Moody, chairman of the board of trustees, noted that he was proud to see many Winston County students receiving scholarships at the recent East Central Community College banquet.

The board and public also reviewed a tentative Special Education Budget which is completed fund through federal funds. The SPED budget is estimated at $976,779.62. the final number was not in place for the SPED budget since federal allocations have not been set for the upcoming year.

The trustees are set to meet June 25 at 5:30 p.m. to approve the budget and handle regular monthly business.