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School board approves $76.1 million budget

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Chilton County Board of Education approved a $76.1 million budget for the 2022 fiscal year during a meeting on Sept. 2.

The budget was unanimously approved by the board members who were present. This included Brad Carter, Keith Moore, Jaqueline Sullivan and Board President Pam Price. Board members Lori Patterson, Chris Smith and Diane Calloway were absent.

The 2022 fiscal year will begin Oct. 1, 2021.

Total revenues were projected at $76.1 million with nearly $59.3 million for the general fund and nearly $1.3 million for capital projects. Another $1.8 million in revenue is expected from the state for debt service.

The majority of funding for the school system comes from the state with nearly $49.4 million expected in the coming fiscal year. Funding is also received from federal programs and local ad valorem taxes.

Chief School Financial Officer Alisa Benson said state funding based on last school year’s daily average of students attending classes was down for the coming fiscal year. This funding will be based on an average daily attendance of 7,396.95.

“There is a decline in your enrollment of 188.5 students, and the reason that that is so important is because that is what drives your funding,” Benson said.

This year, this portion of revenue from the state foundation program will fund 482.74 earned units for positions.

“For this year, we have lost 11.74 earned units,” Benson said.

Revenue from other sources would have to be used to cover any needed positions not funded.

In total, the state foundation program will account for $47.2 million in revenue for the school system, Benson said. The majority of this pays for certified employees’ salaries. A $5 million required match will come from other funding sources.

Additional funds are received through other state revenue programs. Benson said state revenue has to be used before federal funds.

Total expenditures for the 2022 fiscal year were budgeted at nearly $55.4 million for the general fund and $699,250 for capital projects. An additional $1.98 million was budgeted for debt service.

The budget projects $10.27 million for the general fund balance, up from the general balance of nearly $8.5 million from the 2021 fiscal year. Benson said the school system is required to have the equivalent of at least one month’s operating budget in its general fund balance.

This year, the school system has applied for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund revenue to pay for some of the school nurses. However, approval had not been received by the time the budget had to be put together, so the budget has these positions being paid out of Other Current Expense program revenue. Benson said if approval is received an amendment to the budget would be made to pay these positions to ESSER funds.

In addition to kindergarten to 12th grade, Chilton County Schools has 16 First Class Pre-K classrooms, which receive funding from the state Office of School Readiness. However, Benson said the funding received does not always cover the salaries of the required teacher and auxiliary teacher/ aide, because teachers with more experience make more. The difference is funded through Title funding.

During her budget presentation, Benson also mentioned future financial goals for the school system. Two of these were getting maintenance out of the capital outlay budget and moved to being paid through OCE funds and having a fleet renewal schedule set up to avoid debt when purchasing school buses.

“There is not a lot of money for doing repairs and things at the local schools,” Benson said. “… We are just really going to have to consider those items case-by-case because there is not a budget for it this year. I literally ran out of money. We flexed where we could.”

Copies of the budget are available to the public by request at Chilton County Schools Central Office, 1705 Lay Dam Road in Clanton.