SOCSD holds hearing for 2018-2019 budget

Staff Writer

As in years past, the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District anticipates a tight budget, with many similarities to the budget from the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

The school board held its annual budget hearing Tuesday evening, offering the public a chance to see the district’s budget for the first time, and address any concerns they might have. However, no member of the public signed up to comment. As it was a hearing, no action was taken on the budget. The budget will go before the board at its next regular meeting on Aug. 14. The district is required to hold the hearing at least a week before the budget goes before the board.

Chief Financial Officer Tammie McGarr read through the budget, explaining its moving parts.

The district’s projected revenue for the fiscal year is $56,423,387. Projected expenditures are $81,313,327. Expenditures are higher than revenue due to district construction funds, mostly involving the Partnership School budgeted as expenditures. The district’s Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) funding for 2018-2019 has dropped by $320,865.20 to $22,471,711. The drop is mainly due to decreased attendance.

“We have construction funds available that we will not be receiving this year, but we do have to budget those expenditures for that fiscal year, so that we can pay out what we need to pay out for those construction projects,” McGarr said.

To budget for district departments, McGarr used the same formula she has used in years past, taking the amount each department asked for and giving them 10 percent less. Exceptions were made for transportation and maintenance funds, which are crucial to the district’s operations.

The county also saw an approximately seven percent increase in the value of a mill for the fiscal year. The district will see a total $1,453,432 increase in ad valorem tax and homestead exemption funds for operations. The total operational ad valorem request is $21,334,997, and the debt service request is $3,878,760. A $387,876 request was also made for the support of the Millsaps Career and Technology Center. The increased mill value should cover the increased request without the levying authority having to increase in the number of mills levied. The district is at the 55-mill-cap, meaning local taxation for operations will be capped, and the district will receive more funds only through reassessment and new growth.

The year’s projected fund balance for the district maintenance fund is $10,036,930.

“Last year was the first year that we didn’t have to issue a tax anticipation note,” McGarr said. “In years before, we were having to issue one every year, because we did not have any fund balance hardly, and most of our tax revenue comes in the spring months, so for our expenses in the fall months, we would go into negative cash if we didn’t have that tax anticipation note to cover it.”

Superintendent Eddie Peasant said he was particularly pleased with the district’s per-student spending of approximately $11,396.92, which has risen steadily over the past few years.

“We’re pleased with where we are in our budget,” Peasant said. “We feel like we’ve been able to make some adjustments that are going to be beneficial to our students. We’re excited that our expenditure per student has increased, and that always tells us that (we’re) doing what’s best for kids, making decisions to improve the education of our students.”

The budget is made up of 56 individual budgets. Some highlights include:

The buildings and buses fund remains at $168,777, with no increase or decrease. Salaries and fringe benefits make up $36,666,524 of total expenditures, or 79.82 percent. No changes were madeto teacher salaries at the district or state level.

Classroom supplies and materials were allotted $229,918. At the elementary level, it amounts to $25 per student, middle school $35 and high school $40. All levels receive an additional $4.50 per student for art, music and PE supplies.

The library books and supplies fund was allotted $125,999.

The textbooks and consumables fund was allotted $403,630, including a new science adoption.

Athletics was allotted a $54,902 general fund budget, with $140,000 to be transferred to the athletic activity fund for supplies and student travel. A memorial brick fund netted $107,948 in donor revenue.

The band program has been allocated $74,500, for camp, instrument repair, student transportation and other expenses.

Counselors are allocated $180 for supplies and $450 for travel.

Principals are allocated $9 per student for supplies and $450 for travel. However, West Elementary is allocated $900 for travel due to its distance from Starkvilleand Starkville High School is allocated $2,700 for administrative travel to extracurricular activities.