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BoE gives tentative OK to budget
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The Effingham County School Board tentatively approved the 2008-09 budget Thursday night.

Superintendent Randy Shearouse went over the proposed budget and schedule for setting the budget with board members. A tentative approval of the budget is necessary in order to advertise the proposed millage rate.

He said the school system will receive the final roll back rate from the county tax assessor on May 26, and on May 27 the system will begin advertising the budget and the five-year millage rate history. The BoE will have a special called meeting June 16 at 7 p.m. to approve the budget and adopt the millage rate.

“The reason why we have to have a special called meeting is because the commissioners meeting is on the 17th, and they have to adopt their millage and adopt the millage rate for the county. That all has to be complete before they meet,” Shearouse said.

He told the board revenue is estimated to be $25.8 million from property taxes, up from $24 million last year. The system is budgeting $790,000 from Georgia Pacific in lieu of taxes, up from $754,000 last year.

The system is also expecting $59 million in quality basic education allotments from the state, up from $55 million last year. Grant estimates include $250,000 in vocational and other state grants and $175,000 for the state preschool grant. Both amounts are the same as last year’s budget.

Revenue from other sources is projected at $1.2 million.

The school board does not budget for the mid term allotment that is generally given to the system by the state because the General Assembly and governor must approve that allotment each session.

“We want to make sure those funds are coming our way before we put that in the budget,” Shearouse said.

He said the amount is based on growth, and this year the system had a mid term allotment of approximately $900,000.

The total estimated revenue for 2009 is $87.6 million, up from last year’s budget of $81.7 million.
Shearouse also reviewed the planned expenses for next year.

“A lot of increases are having to do with increased positions, salary increases, but mainly just new positions that we’re having to add because of growth and anticipated growth,” he said.

“Teachers are getting a 2.5 percent raise that does not include benefits, so they are roughly getting a 3 percent raise for those teachers,” Shearouse said. “Then you look at the steps, the number of years — when you grow a step, that is a 3 percent raise on top of that in total. That’s a 5.5 percent raise in total.”

The largest percentage increase in expenditures is for remedial instruction, which will increase from $117,442 to $228,391.

“We are adding remedial education teachers at the high schools and at the middle schools, and that’s why you see that increase there,” Shearouse said.

There is also a significant percentage increase in the state special education preschool, which will have $393,607 this year up from $215,928.

Shearouse said the administrative head was paid from another line item last year because the system does not earn money for a preschool administrator from the state, but that is included this year, which accounts for part of the jump in expenses.

The total projected expenses for the system come to $87.55 million, up from $81.68 million.

Board member Lamar Allen asked Ron Wilson, finance director, why the projected expenses and revenue were not the same.

“We’ve got a small surplus of $49,769,” Wilson said. “Every year we try to program in just a little bit of surplus. Last year it was like $34,000. This budget is tentative still. It’s probably not going to stay.”

Currently the board is projecting the millage rate to be rolled back to 15.455 from 15.57, and the bond millage rate to be rolled back to 1.169 from 1.178.

“We will pay off our bond this year,” Shearouse said.

The budget includes adding 41 teaching positions, 1.5 speech therapists, two nurses, a school social worker, along with other positions and programs needed during the year.