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Madison City Schools Board unveils 2011 budget at public hearing

The Madison City Schools Board of Education unveiled its 2011 budget Thursday, Sept. 2 at the first of two required meetings.

This year’s budget projects approximately $88 million in revenue, with $115 million in expenditures.

Nearly $28 million of expenditures will go towards building the new high school, and all of that money comes from reserves from previous years.

The general fund budget is approximately $69.8 million in revenues, and $69 million in expenditures.

“We tried to use all the resources that are available,” said David Smith, the system’s financial advisor. “We tried to utilize every single dollar we could.”

Smith said this year’s budget is as conservative as it can be in both revenues and expenses, as the system prepares for 2012.

“What happens in 2012? All your stimulus money goes away,” Smith said.

Although state revenues are down in many areas, local revenues remain steady, and Smith said that is a good thing.

“Funding our education system is a local responsibility,” Smith said.

Regardless of how dire the state’s revenue outlook is, Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said the system must stay the course.

“Over the last two years, we’ve been cut by the state … $7 million,” Fowler said. “We have to suck it up and go.

“Our revenues are going down, but we’re maintaining our quality,” Fowler added.

Also during the presentation, Smith broke down enrollment at each school, with Mill Creek Elementary and Bob Jones High leading the way with 58 and 54 additional students respectively, while Horizon Elementary and Discovery Middle each lost the most students with 47 and 44 respectively.

Overall, Fowler said he would like to have an 18 to 1 ratio of students per teacher in grades K-3 and 26 to 1 ratio from grades 4-6.

Although most all schools are close to that number, Fowler said hitting those numbers exactly is not possible in this current economic climate.

“To get K-3 to 18 to 1, and 4-6 to 26 to 1, we would have to add 13 teacher units,” Fowler said. “We can’t afford 13 additional teachers in K through 6.”

Despite lower revenues, looming proration, slowed enrollment gains and the additional expenses of a new high school, Board President Ray White said the budget is a great step toward preparing the system of the anticipated woes of 2012.

“It’s all about getting ready for next year. That’s the stormy day we’ve all been talking about,” White said. “We’ve got to plan for proration.”

The next hearing on the budget will be Thursday, Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. at the Central Office.

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