I just wanted to make a few comments on the Daily Tribune article from this morning. I don’t think it accurately paints a picture of our current financial situation. You cannot just jump to the Fund Balance total and present that as our operational reserve. The School Nutrition fund and the Capital Projects fund are dedicated and cannot be used for general school operations. Most of the expense in running the school system comes from personnel costs, which are around 85-88% for Bartow County. The real operation of the school system comes from column one in the budget summary that is attached. If you remove the two funds that I mentioned then our “real” operational reserve is $3.8 million dollars. This year (most likely due to the elections) we received an additional $2.5 million dollars from Gov. Deal and the legislature. If it were not for these funds our operational fund balance would be $1.3 million dollars.
The school system has been running a budget deficit of around $5-6 million dollars for a number of years. We have been surviving off of the money that was saved in our fund balance when the economic situation was more favorable. This budget drains that “savings account” and we CANNOT continue to operate the way that have been. It appears as though some members of the board are taking steps to propose raising the millage rate because of board action last night.
They will make the argument that we have done everything possible to avoid this situation but in reality we have added 5 days back to our instructional calendar knowing full well what we are dealing with. Right now if these numbers hold we would be short $1.7 million dollars next budget year based on our current staffing with no reserve to cover the shortfall. This could be even worse if we don not get the same $2.5 million in extra funds next year from the state. The increasing tax digest may help these numbers some but I doubt very seriously that it will cover the kind of gap we are looking at. The rest of the difference would have to come from tax increases or staff cuts.