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Bryan County BoE approves budget
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The Bryan County Board of Education unanimously approved Monday its budget for 2013 that includes some growth without an increase in the millage rate.

The school system’s spending plan for the coming year consists of $52.3 million — up from the current year’s budget of $48.7 million — while holding the current millage rate of 15.537. The action was taken during the board’s called meeting at the Richmond Hill Prekindergarten Center.

According to Director of Finance Melanie James, overall revenues increased by 3 percent, or about $1.6 million, which includes increases in federal and state revenues.

“The (prior year) federal revenues increased significantly,” she said. “The original FY12 budget for federal revenues was $330,000, but because of increased Impact Aid revenues, the federal revenues budgeted amount was increased to $609,625. In FY13, federal revenues are budgeted at $659,666.”

State revenues also increased. James said because of student growth, state revenues for fiscal year 2013 increased by almost 5 percent to total more than $32 million compared to about $30 million in the 2012 budget.

But although student growth netted more funds for the school system, James said the state budget continues to include austerity cuts, which are funds earned but withheld from local school systems.

“Bryan County Schools’ FY 2013 Austerity Reduction is $4.9 million,” she said. “Total austerity cuts to our district over the 11-year period are $26.1 million.”

Personnel accounts for almost 86 percent of the 2013 budget. James said the budget allows for 757 positions, 20 of which are new positions, including five teachers, one media paraprofessional, five custodians, five drivers, two monitors, one maintenance staff member and more.

“There are no furlough days included in the budget,” James added. “All teachers will be employed for 190 days and students will attend school for 180 days.”

James noted that revenue from ad valorem taxes took a hit in current budget, dropping about $2.3 million from fiscal year 2011. But 2013 will see a slight increase of about $216,000 in the property tax revenue, she said.

Still, that source of revenue is down from past years.

“But ad valorem taxes are still $2.1 million less than the amount budgeted in FY 2011,” she noted.

There are several significant new items in the operations budget, James said.

Those items include $81,000 for band instruments at Bryan County and Richmond Hill high schools, $25,000 for an upgrade to the schools’ media management systems, $245,000 for increased property and liability insurance, $58,000 for professional learning opportunities and $160,000 for diesel fuel.

“The increase (for diesel fuel) is due to the increased number of miles driven as a result of both an increase in student enrollment — which means increased bus ridership — and the new middle school routes,” she said.

Overall expenditures increased by about 7 percent, or about $3.5 million. And though the budgeted revenues are less than the expenditures, James said the difference will come from the general fund.

“Budgeted revenues are $572,000 less than budgeted expenditures,” she said. “But because of various factors that have been put in place over the last few years, including the 2-mill increase in FY 2010 along with a hiring freeze for over two years, the BoE has a sufficient reserve to cover the shortage.”

During Monday’s called meeting, Bryan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher commended the staff for its work on balancing the budget.

“When the state does not fund $4.9 million dollars owed to Bryan County Schools through continued austerity reductions for the FY 2013 school year, preparing a balanced budget is very difficult,” he said.

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