The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

September 13, 2013

County school board approves $89.9M budget

By Kim West

— The Limestone County Board of Education approved an $89.9 million budget for fiscal 2014 beginning Oct. 1.

Ann Swanner, interim chief school finance officer for Limestone County Schools, presented the system’s finances during a budget hearing held prior to Tuesday’s board meeting.

Swanner, who rejoined the system about three weeks ago after serving as its CSFO from 1984 to 1997, reviewed changes made since the first hearing held Aug. 20.

She said the budget has already been accepted by the state Department of Education, which requires public school systems to submit their budgets by Sept. 20.

“A budget is just a planning document,” said Swanner, who advised the board changes could be made during the fiscal year through budget amendments.

The Limestone budget for fiscal 2014 is primarily funded by three sources — $51.9 million from the state, $23 million from local revenue and $6.3 million in federal funds.

Personnel expenses comprise 71.3 percent of the budget, or $60.2 million, for a projected 1,071 employees. The system is setting aside $4 million for ongoing capital improvement projects to renovate Clements High School and $4 million for a new gym at Ardmore High School.

Swanner said the $2 million budget for the central office, which has 33 full-time employees overseeing more than 9,000 students and 13 schools, is 2.2 percent of the overall budget.

“This is extremely low for administrative services,” she said.

Fall schedule

The board has agreed to hold bimonthly work sessions to allow for more information to be shared and discussed between the seven board members and the superintendent.

All meetings will be held at 6 p.m. Work sessions are Sept. 17 and Nov. 19, and board meetings are Oct. 1, Nov. 5 and Dec. 3.

School officials are expecting all meetings and work sessions to be held at the Clinton Street courthouse annex to allow for public access. The meeting room at the central office building on South Jefferson Street is not accessible for those with disabilities.