Stephens Co. School System Still Working to Update Financial Numbers

The Stephens County school system continues efforts to get final financial numbers in order to move forward with the Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

School system staff provided the Stephens County Board of Education with another Fiscal Year 2015 budget update during the board’s meeting on Tuesday.

Finance Director Misty Cleveland told the Board that the current up to date estimated fund balance is $85,000.

Cleveland said that is a better figure than just a couple of days ago, when the fund balance was actually a negative $1.1 million.

She said those wild fluctuations are part of reconciling all of the books.

Stephens County School Superintendent Bryan Dorsey said that regardless of where the fund balance sits, the school system still faces a Fiscal Year 2015 budget with expenditures exceeding revenues.

“If we were to hold to similar to what we are hearing today, which is certainly much better news than yesterday’s news, than obviously we still have to deal in either of these scenarios with $1.5 million worth of adjustments to get back to a constitutionally balanced budget,” Dorsey said Tuesday.

Dorsey said that if the Board of Education keeps the millage rate at 18.4 and does not roll it up to 18.57 mills in order to levy the same overall amount of property tax as last year, the projected Fiscal Year 2015 budget shortfall grows to just over $1.6 million for the general fund.

He said, however, until a final anticipated fund balance is ready, the school system will not truly know what it faces.

Dorsey said he hopes to have that number later this month and wants to have a called Board of Education meeting at that point to begin moving forward.

“We are going to try to have you some scenarios to consider … some different scenarios on what it would take to get to a balanced budget,” said Dorsey.

One option the school system has looked is only doing one bus run, instead of two, and having K through 12 students all ride the same bus.

However, Dorsey said that it appears at this point that the cost reductions from fewer routes would be offset by extra costs of hiring bus monitors for those buses.

Dorsey also said that the general fund shortfall does not include an estimated $250,000 in federal and state program monies, like Title I, and approximately $455,000 in E-SPLOST III money that will have to reimbursed at some point because the monies did not meet expenditure control requirements.

Fiscal Year 2015 starts on July 1.

Because the school system will not have a budget ready on July 1, the Board of Education unanimously approved a July spending resolution on Tuesday.

That spending resolution will allow the school system to spend funds for July not to exceed one-twelfth of the final amended budget for all funds for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015 while a budget is finalized.

Also on Tuesday, the Board of Education unanimously approved a loan resolution that will allow the school system to borrow money to use until tax collections come in later this year.