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School officials air budget concerns
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As they take the first steps toward a new budget, Bryan County Schools officials find they have more money than expected for the current fiscal year but greater uncertainties about next year.

The Bryan County Board of Education held its regular meeting Thursday evening, with Lanier Primary School serving as the host campus this month. After board members were given a suggested timeline for creating a budget, Financial Director Melanie James commented on favorable developments in the current FY 2011 budget, which runs through June 30. The new budget will be for fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1.

“There’s a lot of variables for next year,” James said. “We really had hoped that we would have a smoother budget than we have had in the past few years. Tax revenues, tax collections, are increasing. They’re up about 8 percent.”

School officials built an $890,000 cushion into the current budget to compensate for a feared 3 percent further cut in state funding. This won’t be needed because state lawmakers have preserved that funding.

Meanwhile, delivery of $550,000 expected from the final installment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the 2009 stimulus bill, was held over into this fiscal year, and the school system received about $850,000 from the federal jobs legislation last fall.

“So this year we’re going to end up a lot better financially than we anticipated,” James said.

However, she put the emphasis on “this year” and noted that stimulus funding has now expired. This leaves the local board to decide whether to eliminate “35-plus” jobs that had been funded with the federal money or to fund them locally, James said.

For more pick up a copy of the Feb. 26 edition of the news.

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