School budget set to rise in 2009
By Kathryn Purcell
Because of a Governor Sonny Perdue-spurred teacher pay raise and an increase in the cost of fuel, Superintendent Stan DeJarnett announced to the Morgan County Board of Education Monday that the Board's projected budget for fiscal year (FY) 2009 would increase 3.85 percent from the previous year.
"The 2008 budget was 9.47 percent larger than the 2007 budget," DeJarnett said, in a phone interview. "This budget increase is just 3.85 percent."
DeJarnett cited Perdue's 2.5 percent salary increase for teachers and constantly increasing fuel and energy costs as reasons for the projected increase.
The Board budgeted $220,000 for bus fuel costs last year, according to DeJarnett. This year, they plan on budgeting $325,000 for bus fuel costs.
"I think that the 3.85 percent increase, mark that up to the state raise and fuel costs," DeJarnett said, referring to the causes of the projected increase.
“We don’t want to hurt the classrooms...We want to keep momentum so student performance continues.”
Last year's budget totaled more than $28 million, and the Board rolled the millage rate back to 12.735 mils.
The 3.85 percent projected increase itself totals more than $1 million, which brings the projected budget for FY 2009 to a little over $29 million.
"We've cut it hard," DeJarnett said.
DeJarnett also recommended that, through drawing some money from reserves, the Board agree to go back to the rollback millage rate for FY 2009 - 12.724 mils. This will be the third year in a row that the Board has been able to go to the rollback rate, DeJarnett said.
"The good news is we've got a budget that is very, very tight, and I believe we'll be able to go back to the rollback rate with taxes," DeJarnett said.
“But economic times are tough and we all know that, and I think that if we have to take money out of the reserves [to be able to go to the rollback rate], we should.”
The Board plans on advertising and hearing public comment over the next few weeks before voting on the budget, during a called meeting at the end of this month, and the millage rate, slated to be voted on at the Board’s July meeting.