School budget exceeds revenue

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Marshall County Schools' budget draft indicates spending sought from next year's budget exceeds revenue by nearly twice what was spent from reserves in the current budget.

Schools Finance Officer Janet Wiles stressed Wednesday that's a true statement, but it's based on a first draft of the proposed budget. Furthermore, it reflects increased costs for the system and decisions officials face.

Additional money "will either have to come from a tax increase or, if the commissioners turn that down, cuts will have to be made," Wiles said.

The difference only appears to be deficit spending this year. The difference was drawn from reserve funds carried forward from one year to the next. Last summer, the reserve account totaled $2.1 million.

Records reviewed at the joint session Thursday last week show last year's spending of $33.5 million exceeded revenue of $32.2 by $1.3 million, or four percent. The budget as drafted last week showed spending requests of $36.2 million, or $2.5 million more than projected revenue. Spending requests of $36.2 million exceed anticipated revenue by 7.4 percent.

Members of the school board were quick to point out during a joint meeting with the County Commission's Education Committee that the budget being developed for next year is still a work in progress.

Among the challenges facing the system of funding education for children in Marshall County are unfunded state mandates, efficient bus routes in the face of increased fuel costs, and growth requiring more teachers.

"The system may have been carrying money for positions that weren't needed, but they are needed now," Commissioner Jennifer Harris said as the committee she leads started talking about school funding with the Board of Education.

Turning attention to operating costs from capital spending on computers, Harris said, "We're on the cusp of the technology installation." She indicated the system may eventually have satellite classes with one teacher at one . . .Pick up a copy of today's edition, Friday, May 23, for full coverage.