Schools' budget committee scheduling budget development

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Marshall County School Board's Budget Committee is taking steps to avoid last-minute work sessions and unpleasant financial surprises.

Committee members have developed a time-line for getting their numbers in order, and are requesting monthly reports from various departments to keep them abreast of income and expenditures.

The schedule approved at a Wednesday night meeting, led by School Board member Kristen Gold, calls for a "Needs Assessment" to be available to the committee by Dec. 1.

In February, the budget committee will review the status of negotiable items with the team that is negotiating with the Marshall County Education Association, and will be ready to make a budget recommendation to the full board.

The director of schools and his staff will in March, prepare a tentative budget for the committee, and in April it will be presented to the board. From then until June, the budget committee will adjust the budget so the board can vote on it and submit it to the county commission that same month.

In July, budget director Janet Wiles will have the final numbers for the 2008-2009 school year.

"It's the first year to have an outline like this," said Gold, noting that it's still a "work in progress."

The committee plans to review the current year's numbers monthly in order to, as Gold says, "get a better feel of the flow of the numbers and see how it's tracking with our budget. It will help us monitor how we're doing and reassure us that money is being spent the way we intended."

Committee member Craig Michael requested the previous year's numbers for comparison, and Gold assured him that "anything we want we can request from Janet (Wiles)."

Schools Director Stan Curtis told the committee that his staff would be glad to get them any reports they wanted. His staff is already comparing utilities' costs between the current and last years.

"When you're $800 million low in state revenue," said Curtis, "I don't know how it's possible the state is not going to look at cutting what they give us. We desperately need an alternative school, and I'm very concerned about what's going on in the classroom from the point of view of what we're providing the teachers to help them do their job."

"We've got to look at everything and become more efficient," added Curtis. Already, some of the school principals have come up with ways to save money and the economic future has been discussed in meetings with principals and supervisors.

"I don't think we can count on getting any additional funding any time soon," said Gold. "That's why cost savings are so important."

Lewisburg Middle School teacher Kathy Stapleton was present and said, "Teachers are your grassroots. Ee know how to ... (save money.)"

Curtis agreed.

"It's going to have to be a grassroots effort," the schools director said.

The committee is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, Dec. 4, to review the "needs assessment" with Curtis and Wiles before they discuss it with the supervisors and principals.