School system holds first budget meeting for 2018 fiscal year

By Cliff McCollum
Posted 9/1/17

Baldwin County Schools CFO John Wilson gave his first budget presentation for the coming 2018 fiscal year to the school board Tuesday night, which showed an increase in federal and local funds but a …

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School system holds first budget meeting for 2018 fiscal year

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Baldwin County Schools CFO John Wilson gave his first budget presentation for the coming 2018 fiscal year to the school board Tuesday night, which showed an increase in federal and local funds but a $1.7 million decline in state funds.

Wilson told the board the budget is focused on the system’s two main priorities for the coming fiscal year were classroom instruction and addressing growth.

“I feel like this budget accomplishes many of our top priorities as a system related to enhancing the instructional levels in the classroom and facilitating the needs caused by growth throughout the county, while still maintaining a balanced budget with a two month reserve balance,” Wilson said.

Budgeted revenues showed a $1 million increase in federal funds and a $4.4 million increase in local funds for the 2018 fiscal year, but that was paired with a $1.7 million decrease in state funds due to issues with the 10 mill match required by the state.

“We had a big jump in our appraised value, and that increase in property value actually hurts us,” Wilson said. “To think that when our value goes up, our state funding goes down is crazy, but that’s where we are right now.”

Wilson said despite the decrease in state funds, the system would still be able to address needs because of the increases in other funding sources and decreases in various budget spending areas.

“All major budgeting areas had a year over year decrease in expenditures except for instructional and support services, capital outlay and debt expense,” Wilson said.

Wilson added general and administrative expenses were below the state average. Baldwin County’s expenses only represented 2 percent of the budget compared to the state average of 4 percent.

The 2018 budget will have 238 locally funded teacher certified employees and 336 locally funded classified support employees.

The budget also contains $7.7 million on large maintenance and repair projects at existing schools throughout the county, as well as funds to meet the debt obligations for the $60 million Phase 3 Pay As You Go projects.

All school officials and board members said they were thankful for the extension of the penny sales tax done by the Baldwin County Commission earlier this year.

“This time last year, we were discussing what we were going to be bringing y’all in the spring, which would have been a $13 million reduction in force that would have taken place in June,” Superintendent Eddie Tyler said. “We would have had overcrowded classrooms and no new additions. We were facing a different atmosphere than what we are now because of that penny extension, and we’re very thankful for it.”

Wilson also highlighted that average instructional support expenditures for the county were higher than the state average: $6,864.40 per student in Baldwin County versus $6,765.25 per student with the state average.