Parker: Schools’ Budget Falls Short

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

A 1-cent increase in the Cannon County Schools' share of the county's property tax rate is insufficient to fund the needs of the system, Director of Schools Barbara Parker says.

The Cannon County Commission approved the 1-cent increase when it set the tax rate for the current fiscal year at its Sept. 15 special session.

The Cannon County Board of Education approved the schools' budget for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 based upon that 1-cent increase and its 90.5 cent share of the now $2.44 property tax rate at its Sept. 22 meeting.

The Commission, however, approved a school budget reflecting a 4-cent increase on Sept. 15.

"The County Commission approved a tax rate and the schools' portion of that tax rate," Parker said. 

"The school system was given one cent of the 12 cents tax increase.  The Commission did not approve our budget with the four cents increase.  We knew, and the Commission knew, that the school system would have to amend the budget to reflect the correct tax rate portion." 

Parker said an amended budget will be presented to the County Commission for approval when it meets Saturday, Oct. 15.

Even though the schools received a 1-cent increase, Parker said it falls short of what the system needs.

 "It is not sufficient, but the school system had already trimmed the budget in order to start school and keep it running the complete year.," Parker said. "We made tremendous cuts to personnel and programs in order to start school on time, and we were trying to not interrupt the school year because of budget deficits."

Parker said there were no new positions were added this year, and that one teaching position was cut at Short Mountain School, three teachers and one assistant at the high school, one maintenance position, and one STAR secretary at the Central Office.

The director said it is not known at this time whether the school system will be asking for an increased share of the property tax rate to fund its budget for the next fiscal year.

"That is hard to tell at this point." Parker said. "We will have to wait to receive the allocation from the State Dept. for BEP in order to ascertain how much local money we will need to meet our budget needs."

School Board Chairman Gannon called the Sept. 22 meeting to order at 5:30. The purpose of the meeting was to approve a budget based on the action by the Cannon County Commission.

Parker told the Board that the reports from the Trustee’s office have not been accurate, due to them switching to a computerized based bookkeeping system. This could impact the final numbers from the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Parker explained what had been done to cut expenditures in travel and other categories. She further explained that all raises for non-certified employees had been removed.

A motion was made by Gannon, seconded by Cathy Hyatt, to approve the budget as presented. The motion carried.

Chairman Gannon then asked what the Board wanted to do with the penny received. A motion was made by Mike Mayfield to add 3% to the custodians and bookkeepers, attendance clerks, secretaries, receptionists, and food service. Motion failed for lack of a second.

A motion was made by Cathy Hyatt, seconded by Randy Gannon, to put the 1 cent in the budget and have at the October meeting a list of people who fit into each category to get raises equaling that amount, with a Board workshop held at a later date as to how to disburse it. The motion carried.