By Amanda McBride
The Choctaw Plaindealer
The Choctaw County School Board plans to operate on a $15,757,088 million budget for the 2013-2014 school year. In their June 18 Budget Hearing, Superintendent Glen Beard announced that the district would not ask for an increase of ad valorem taxes from the county.
The district is expecting total projected revenue of $16,817,292 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. According to the “Notice of Proposed Ad Valorem Tax Effort” for the CCSD, 25.92 percent or $4,358,807of the projected revenue is proposed to be financed through a total ad valorem tax levy.
In the budget hearing, Beard explained that the CCSD expects to receive approximately $1.3 million from the Red Hills Operations power plant. This is expected because the plant will be fully on the county tax roll instead of paying fee in lieu payments.
“This will not be an increase in ad valorem to the Choctaw County taxpayers,” said Beard.
He added, “The school district is not raising taxes.”
The $1.3 million expected from the power plant is included in the total projected revenue of $16,817,292.
Beard explained, in the budget hearing, that the district’s major revenues come from three sources: state-42 percent or approximately $7,137,766, local-40.97 percent or approximately $6,890 and federal funding-12.43 percent or approximately $2,090,000.
The district has budgeted $15,757,088 for total expenditures for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
Beard said the district’s major expenditures are instruction (45.98 percent), fringe benefits (15.96 percent), transfers (10.76 percent) and supplies (8.07 percent).
Beard pointed out that instruction or salary and fringe benefits combined makes up 61.94 percent of the district’s expenditures.
Beard said last year, the district had a deficit of $1.356,222 but this year they were able to “add to the fund balance for the first time in many years.” He said they have added $1 million to fund the balance and that is without asking for an ad valorem increase.
Some of the challenges the CCSD sees for the budget include being underfunded by MAPE funds again this year. For the 2014, the district will be underfunded by MAPE $910,000.
Beard said from fiscal year 2011-2014, the district has been underfunded $3,215,528 by MAPE.
“We are trying to maintain and do what it takes to not put that on the taxpayers,” said Beard.
The district also received a 7 percent cut across all federal programs from the federal sequestration and the employer contribution to PERS increased from 14.26 percent to 15.75 percent.
The district chose to restructure to reduce overall costs. They expect approximately $1.2 million in savings from the restructuring of the district high schools.
The students and district will see benefits of restructuring including: having a speech pathologist in all schools, having a full-time gifted teacher at French Camp Elementary and an additional gifted teacher at Ackerman Elementary, and adding a Culinary Arts and traditional business program to Choctaw County High School.
“All this in addition to adding $1 million in the budget,” said Beard.
The School Board held a meeting to adopt the proposed budget on Tuesday, June 23.