Legislators hear of system’s sobering financials
By Kathryn Schiliro
Morgan County Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett was given the opportunity to brief and address state legislators about the school system’s financials at a “Hometown Connections” meeting hosted by City of Madison administration Dec. 7.
Bennett spoke to incumbent state Representative Doug Holt and incoming state Senator Burt Jones about the sobering reductions in state funding to the Morgan County School System over the past few years. He presented the financial information shared with the legislators to the school board at their meeting Monday, Dec. 10.
Reductions in state funding since fiscal year (FY) 2008 total $8.3 million, according to information Bennett provided the legislators. Per full-time student, funding from the state decreased by a total of $95 per student in FY08; then decreased $391 in FY09; $793 in FY10, the greatest reduction total of the past five years; $649 in FY11; and $672 in FY12.
Local sources of funding have had to pick up the difference.
In FY08, 47 percent of school system revenues came from local sources while 53 percent came from the state. By FY10, the tables had turned and the system was funded more locally – 56 percent – than the state’s 43 percent. In FY12, local sources made up 52 percent of the system’s budget and state money made up the other 48 percent.
Money spent per full-time student fell dramatically from FY08 to FY10, from more than $9,100 to more than $8,600. That total has picked up by about $100 over the past two fiscal years, as the system spent $8,760 per student in FY11 and more than $8,860 in FY12.
The budgetary reductions had an effect of teacher population, of course; the number of teachers in the system has decreased every year from FY09 to the present fiscal year. In FY09, there were 295 teachers in the system; in FY13, there are 242. The biggest fluctuation comes from teachers in grades six to eight, middle school, where there’s a difference of 16 teachers from the peak of 60 in FY09 to the low of 44 this fiscal year.
Bennett said that he got a commitment from Jones to come and visit the system and its schools.
Citing Jones’ campaign platform, school board member Dave Belton said, “He ran on this, so I hope he doesn’t forget it.”
Printed in the December 20, 2012 edition