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The Shelby County Board of Education approved Thursday a slightly smaller budget for the 2009-2010 school year.
Next year's expense budget is $40,332,325, down just more than 3 percent from 2008-09.
The plan was presented to the board by Dr. Robert Arvin, a financial consultant who worked with Greg Murphy, director of finance for the school system.
Murphy said that next year's budget is lower than this year's because of several revenue items.
"The beginning balance was lower due to one time initiatives that the board approved," he said. "We're required to take those funds out of our escrow fund and move it up into the beginning balance and we haven't done that yet for next year."
Next year's beginning balance is projected to be $3,801,163, down from $5,837,985.
The budget is broken up into several categories, the most significant of which is salaries and benefits, which typically comprise about 85 percent of the school system's general fund budget.
Next year, the amount projected for salaries and benefits is slightly higher, $34,106,921.
"That's a little bit more, but only about $28,000 more next year; typically, that goes up by about a million dollars or so every year," Murphy said.
He said some measures have been taken to cut expenses in next year's budget because "of the uncertainty with state funding and what may happen coming out of the General Assembly later this month."
One thing that has been done to reduce expenses next year is to cut the number of days for most employees. When this is compiled with the 1.4 percent salary increase, the effect for many employees will be the loss of about a day's pay.
"We spread that over the entire year, and it's more manageable," Murphy said.
So even though the board has approved a 1.4 percent salary increase for school system employees, this adjustment will keep the budget flatter.
The budget also includes a reduction on the amount spent on new school buses, which is $200,000, half the amount for this year. A bus costs around $73,000, so instead of buying four or five buses, only two or three may be purchased.
Murphy said that economic stimulus money from Washington - just less than $2.3 million -- that the school system is expected to get could possibly be used to buy buses.
"We might be able to use some of that money for special needs buses that need to be replaced anyway instead of having to use general fund dollars for that," he said.
He added that officials don't know yet what stipulations might be put on the use of the stimulus funds.
The new Martha Layne Collins Secondary Center will cost just less than $41 million to build, and site work for the project is estimated to be an additional $5.8 million.
Sherman Carter Barnhart officials, who were on hand with a construction update on that school, reported that the work, including sewer and electrical work, is proceeding on schedule. Part of the power lines will be overhead, but the portion that will be on the school grounds will be underground.
Construction on the building also is continuing, with brick selection already made. Most of the paving is complete, with parking lots remaining.
Other agenda items
* WOW (What Outstanding Work) Awards, a presentation by teacher Karen McPherson and some of her students who read some of their work about Civil Rights, and a farewell gift to student board representative T.J. Kelly, who will be leaving the board upon graduation.
* Several housekeeping items, including fund-raisers for booster club support organizations and permission for Clear Creek Elementary School to apply for several grants.
2009-2010 school budget * Salaries: $31,868,644 * Benefits: $2,238,277
* Purchased and professional and technical services: $604,222
* Purchased property services: $727,085 * Other purchased services: $455,696 * Supplies and materials: $3,502,206 * Property: $841,200 * Miscellaneous: $94,995