The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

August 25, 2013

Athens school system projects $39.3M budget

— Athens Superintendent Trey Holladay gave a quick financial overview during Thursday’s first budget hearing for the city school system, which has 3,180 students and 418 employees.

“The school system has been very blessed in the past several years to have a little surplus,” Holladay said. “We tried hard not to underestimate our expenses or overestimate our revenues for the new budget.”

Athens could have an ending fund balance of $6.9 million on Sept. 30, which is the end of the current fiscal year. Next year’s prediction is at least $6.3 million left, although some remaining funds are earmarked for accounts other than the system’s general fund. 

School officials predict a $39.3 million operating budget for fiscal 2014, compared to $38.5 million for the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Decoding the budget

The West Coast offense is famous for its complicated football jargon and thick playbook, but school finance officials have their own version of 19 Bob QB Pass Right FB Slide. Instead of pass protections and receiver routes, a 27-digit coding system categorizes revenues, expenditures and funding sources for school systems.

Barry Hamilton, chief school finance officer for Athens, kicked off his budget presentation with a terminology tutorial. He also gave a breakdown of a nine-column table with font so small the budget figures appeared microscopic on the overhead screen.

“Every expenditure and every source of revenue that we have has a 27-digit code. It’s a matter of just becoming familiar with those codes and what they mean,” said Hamilton.

Expected revenue for fiscal 2014 are $18.2 million from the state, $14.3 million locally and $2.5 million in federal funding.

Expenditures are forecasted at $24.3 million for instructional and instructional support services, $3.3 million for operations and management, $2.7 million for debt service and $2 million for capital outlay.

School officials said the system lost $114,000 in special education funding and approximately $70,000 apiece from Title I and TVA-in-lieu of taxes.

However, overall local funding is projected to be $14.3 million in fiscal 2014, compared to $13.3 million in fiscal 2013.

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