More than 80 percent of next year's city school budget will be spent on teachers and teacher support, with only 4 percent going to administration.
That's a good breakdown, said Athens City Schools Superintendent Dr. Trey Holladay. It means the bulk of the budget benefits students and learning.
City schools are proposing a $44 million budget for the 2019-20 school year. That includes $44,111,042 in projected revenue, $44,108,615 in projected expenses and reserves of $6,530,808. If the budget is approved by the school board following the second-round of budget talks at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Central Office, that would leave the schools with a 1.77-month reserve. (The state requires enough money in the bank to cover a single month of operating expenses. However, some schools in Alabama have less.)
In the face of strong student growth, the system had to add two aides and two teachers, Holladay said. In the past year, the school system built a new high school and moved middle schoolers to the old high school. This year, the system moved Athens Elementary School students to the old middle school, which required renovations. (The old elementary will be razed and a new one built.) City schools also added artificial turf at Athens High Stadium and made other improvements.
"I give credit to the principals, department chairs, CFO Serena (Owsley) and her staff for looking at the dollars, and board input," Holladay said. "It's been a good team effort. We got it all done and we still came out on top."
During the first round of budget talks last week, neither board members nor members of the public had many questions, Holladay said. But, he expects there may be more the second time around after people have had time to review the numbers.
"We did not have any negatives at the last hearing from the board or the public, but I expect they may have some recommendations or questions. They needed time to study it."
Still, Holladay expects the budget to pass Tuesday night, he said.
He said it is the goal of school officials to "get the most bang for the buck."
By that he means getting the most dollars into the classrooms where they can help the students learn. He is pleased with the percentages spent in that regard.
Of the $44 million in expenses budgeted for the next school year, at least 80 percent of that will go "to teacher and teacher support," the superintendent said. "Administration costs less that 4 percent," he said.
The bulk of the rest will be spent on auxiliary services, debt service (debt repayment, such as that for the new high school) and maintenance.
The biggest challenge in budgeting is making that equation benefit students.
Healthcare costs, which often increase each year for schools, cities and other entities, is not really a matter for discussion.
"That is all handled at the state level; they just tell us what we are going to pay," Holladay said.