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School system preparing for 2009 fiscal year
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The Bryan County School System has completed almost eight months of the current fiscal year. Unlike the city and county governments, the school system operates on a state fiscal year basis that runs July 1 through June 30. During the first seven months of the fiscal year, the school system has expended 58 percent of the budgeted expenditures and collected about 66 percent of the budgeted revenues.

Because the tax digest is prepared on a calendar year basis with taxes due in December, the school system must have sufficient reserves to maintain a healthy cash flow until tax collections are realized. During the month of January, approximately 51 percent of the budgeted tax revenues were received. Earlier in the year, the Bryan County Board of Education adopted a millage rate of 13.572 mills which reflects a lower millage rate than the previous year. This is also the fourth consecutive year in which the millage rate has been reduced. Considering the Bryan County School System has endured in excess of $4.9 million of austerity cuts, the fact that the millage rate has been reduced for four consecutive years is quite a feat.

Because of student growth, the state mandate to reduce class sizes, and the implementation of new programs, the school system budgeted for 37 new positions in the FY 2008 budget. Of these 37 new positions, 31 were instructional-related. The total General Fund budget is $50.9 million which reflects an 11 percent increase over the prior year. Salaries and benefits account for 82 percent of the budget.

The Bryan County School System is currently in the last year of its second SPLOST. SPLOST II is expected to realize approximately $18.3 million of sales tax revenues over the five-year period. In addition, $7.1 million of state funds will be received to assist with capital outlay projects. The voters of Bryan County have approved a third SPLOST for education that is expected to generate $32 million over the next five years.

The school system is beginning the budgeting process for the 2008-2009 school year. The process typically takes about six months to complete, and a tentative budget will be presented to the Board of Education in May with final approval expected in June 2008.

- by Director of Finance Melanie James

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