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BOE budget in the black

More than 1,000 people filled R.L. Austin Gymnasium last year in an effort to deter the Butler County Board of Education from closing McKenzie School in an effort to cut cost.

No such effort is needed this year, according to school officials.

Butler County School’s Superintendent Darren Douthitt said if there was any need for consolidation with any school, it would have been done in the fall of 2011.

“If we were at a position to have to consolidate, we would’ve started that process probably last fall,” Douthitt said. “So we’re not in that frame of mind at this point.”

The idea of consolidating the two schools came when the General Fund at the end of the 2010 fiscal year showed $1,126,854, which was $609,521 less than the one-month operating balance required by the State Department of Education.

At the end of the 2011 fiscal year, the General Fund displayed $1,684,947.

The saving of $500,000 between the two years made all the difference, according to Chief Financial Officer Brandi Autrey.

“We had an excess of revenues and other sources over expenditures and other uses by $596,856,” Autrey said. “The one-month operating balance required by the Alabama State Department of Education for fiscal year 2012 is $1,685,942.”

By only being short $995 to meet the one-month operating balance, the state department rounded the number up ultimately declaring the school system met the balance. Because of this, the school system did not have to submit a plan to the state this year, according to Autrey.

“I can’t say we’re thrilled because you’re never thrilled after going through three years of proration, but we feel like that we have managed as well as possible,” Board of Education President Joe Lisenby said. “We have not had to borrow any money for operating purposes that puts us in a very special group in the State of Alabama because a lot of the school systems across the state have had to borrow operating funds. We haven’t had to do that yet and hopefully we won’t have to.”

As for the 2012-13 budget, Lisenby said the Board is already prepared to operate with less money due to a slight change in the student-to-teacher ratio.

“We know that we’re going to have less funds to operate with next year based up on the budgets for 2013, which starts October 1, 2012, in the State of Alabama,” Lisenby said. “There will probably be some reductions that we have to make, but we think most of those will be taken care of by normal attrition through retirements.”

Even without a strong safety cushion, Lisenby is just happy to be meeting the requirements set by the state to avoid any cuts in the school system.

“Right now, we are not showing the kind of bank balance that we would really feel good about in terms of having a safety cushion, but we are in the black and showing fairly healthy month-to-month balances,” he said.

“There aren’t any plans to sever, cut or consolidate, and there is not any discussion at this point because it’s not necessary.”