Monday, September 27, 2010

TOP STORY >> Budget is $69.3M for Cabot schools

IN SHORT: District has $6.1 million surplus, will spend nearly $2 million more.

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

The Cabot School Board approved a $69.3 million operating budget for the 2010-2011 school year Tuesday night, up from $67.4 million last year.

The budget includes an anticipated carryover of $6.1 million to start the 2011-2012 school year. Tina Wiley, district comptroller, said the carryover is important because the first money from the state doesn’t come in until the end of August and the district needs money for salaries and other expenses until then.

The budget does not yet include anything for salary increases, although Dr. Tony Thurman, school superintendent, said those are coming.

“We are still waiting on first-quarter enrollment numbers to be final so that we can have a more accurate estimate of our growth funding. This funding amount will have a major bearing on the amount of raises that we can provide for staff,” Thurman said.

Wiley said for the past two years, the district has given pay raises that added $1,000 to the base pay of all teachers. Classified staff such as custodians and cafeteria workers received pay increases of 30 cents an hour for an overall increase of $378 to $600, depending upon hours worked.

The eight-page budget the board passed was not broken down to show expenditures such as individual salaries. However, in response to questions from The Leader, Wiley said Thurman is paid $155,000 not counting benefits. Starting teachers are paid $37,475 and teachers with master’s degrees plus 12 hours with 26 years of experience are paid $58,695.

A pie graph in the budget shows that 67 percent of the school district’s income is from the state and 33 percent is local money.

On the expenditure side, 51 percent goes to certified salaries, 14 percent to classified salaries and 16 percent to benefits which means 81 percent of the budget is for personnel. The balance pays utilities and services at 4 percent, supplies at 9 percent, equipment at 2 percent and debt payments at 4 percent.

“Since the majority of our expense is in salaries, it helps very little to try to keep costs down by cutting down on supplies,” Wiley said.

In addition to salaries, the budget includes $7 million for maintenance and operation and $3.3 million for transportation. The district now runs 90 bus routes and more could be added.

The carryover for 2009-2010 was 8.1 percent of the total budget. The anticipated carryover this year is 8.8 percent. Thurman said the state doesn’t require a specific carryover but likes to see between 6 and 10 percent. In 2007, the carryover was down to 4.8 percent. But it has been increasing ever since and now it is well within the acceptable range.