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School system facing shortfall

For the second time since 2010, the Butler County School System is facing a budget shortfall.

According to the projected ending fund balance for the 2013 fiscal year, the Butler County School System will end the year with $1,250,262. That total is approximately $500,000 less than the one-month operating balance of $1.68 million required by the State Department of Education.

The school system closed the 2010 fiscal year with $1,126,854 in the General Fund, $609,521 less than the required one-month operating balance, which led the BOE to look at a number of ways to reduce the school district’s operating costs. The Butler County Board of Education considered closing and consolidating McKenzie School with Georgiana School as one way to cut costs.

Due in part to assistance from the City of Greenville, the Butler County Commission and Rep. Charles Newton, the BOE was able to avoid closing McKenzie School.

The school system finished the 2011 fiscal year in the black and is expected to finish the 2012 fiscal year in the black as well.

If the one-month operating balance is not met for 2013, the school district will be forced to enter an improvement plan district wide.

“Why are we short?” Chief Financial Officer Brandi Autrey asked at the meeting. “We’re short $250,000 in transportation, we’re short half a million for the (2007) bond debt and there was a reduction of the Foundation Program, which means we will not end with a one-month operating balance, and that means we’ll have to do the plan.”

The school system’s current revenue is approximately $29.5 million with additional state and federal allocations pending.

The budget is made up of 62 percent state funding, 22 percent federal funding and 15 percent local funding, with the remaining funding coming from others sources.

The total expense for the year with current allocations is just more than $31 million.

Major cuts in allocations affected the Alabama Student Assistance Program with a cut of $45,286. The program includes programs like Children’s First, High Hopes and At-Risk.

Approximately $200,000 will be left in the capital purchase fund out of the $807,075 allotted to help make improvements on schools. About $300,000 of the original $800,000 will be given back to the state to pay off the PSCA debt service and another $300,000 will be put toward the bond issue.

However, Autrey mentioned that about $600,000 sits on hand in the current capital purchase fund, which can be used for needs like a new roof for Greenville High School, W.O. Parmer Elementary and the cafeteria at Bright Beginnings.

Even with cuts in allocations through different programs, Autrey said 2014 might be the start of a turnaround in funding.

“We’re hoping that 2014, which I know that’s a whole other year away, everything is supposed to start looking up as far as our allocations from the state department,” Autrey said.