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Cutbacks continue to rock schools

By By Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle City School’s will face a 5.8 percent loss in state revenues and deep cuts in teacher allowances for the 2009-10 year.
The Hartselle City School Board approved an operating budget at its meeting earlier this week. The budget will be effective Oct. 1, through Sept. 30, 2010.
Prior to its passage, finance director Sarita Tapscott conducted a second and final reading. Changes she noted from the first reading were a $1,456 decrease in federal revenue and a $90,000 increase in local revenue.
Anticipated total revenues are listed at $29.64 million. The amount of money coming from the state is expected to fall $1.019 million based on 5.8 percent proration. That loss is offset by an increase in federal revenues from stimulus funds totaling $1.6 million. Local revenues are also expected to rise in the amount of $211,900.
Revenue budgeted for classroom supplies dropped from $400 to $100 per teacher and nothing was budgeted for professional development, technology, library enhancement and common purchases. Only $17.17 per unit was budgeted for textbooks.
The capital outlay budget totals $487,767.
Reed said the school system’s revenues were reduced by $1.6 million due to 9 percent state proration declared in December 2008, and $357,279 due to an additional 2 percent declared in July, for a total loss of $1.965 million.
He said he expects the governor to announce a proration rate of 8 to 8.5 percent next month and it could possibly reach 11.5 percent before the end of the school year. If that happens, the city would lose nearly $2 million in state funds and be forced to make up the loss with reserved funds. The school system currently has 3.3 months of operating reserve. The state requirement is one month with three month’s reserve recommended.
The board also approved a change in the attendance policy to waive the requirement of a physician’s excuse for absences related to swine (H1N1) This means parents or guardians will decide when to keep their children home if they are ill with the flu and when it is safe for them to return to class.
The board acted on other matters as follows
In personnel matters, the board approved the resignation of Cassie Chittam as dance team coach at Hartselle High School, effective Sept. 30, and approved the employment of Luke Walden, a 12th grade student, for two hours a week after school to assist with cleaning the building at Hartselle High School.