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Troy schools announce preliminary budget

Managing Editor

July 27, 2000 10 PM

Conservative budgeting has left the Troy City School System showing a budget deficit for the fiscal year 2000-2001, but Superintendent Hank Jones says he’s not worried.

"We have prepared what is known as a deficit budget," Jones said in a Thursday budget hearing. "We don’t like showing that we will be operating in the red and we don’t expect to be, but we have been preparing deficit budgets since I have been superintendent and we had them before as well."

Thursday’s hearing was the first glimpse residents got into the budget for the Troy City School System’s upcoming fiscal year. The numbers will not be finalized until the Troy Board of Education approves the budget, which is anticipated early next month.

The budgeted shortfall isn’t much considering the size of the budget, totaling just more than $30,000 of a total $13.1 million budget.

"That really is not a lot, and we do not expect to close the year in the red," Jones said. "But I am not willing to adjust numbers to show us in the black, though I expect we will be there when all is said and done. We feel like we are pretty close on this."

Jones said his budgeting logic is simple.

"We like to be sure we cover all the items we budgeted," he said.

The shortfall estimated beats the shortfall budgeted for the 1999-2000 fiscal year by $40,000, and Jones said great care is taken to invest funds that come from the City of Troy to overall debt reduction to reduce monies owed on the bond issue for the new Troy Elementary School.

"Of the $700,000 we receive from the City of Troy, we use nearly $500,000 for reducing our debt," Jones said.

According to this year’s budget, $584,000 will be applied toward reduction of the bond issue.

One of the other major expense issues the Troy City School System is struggling with from an expense standpoint is an aging bus fleet.

Though Jones said city schools do not bus most students, the system maintains several buses for extra-curricular activities and for busing multi-handicapped children. The result is that the small fleet is aging and is rapidly deteriorating.

"The state allocates $4,600 a year for buses," Jones said. "It may come as no surprise that it’s not enough to buy a new bus. It takes $55,000 to $60,000 to do that."

The result is that the city is not currently planning to replace any buses with new ones out of this year’s budget, though Jones notes that it is possible.

But work that will be done within the budget is a re-roofing of buildings at Charles Henderson High School, something long overdue.

"Those are going to look great," Jones said. "It was time to do this and I think it’s one of the best investments we could have made."

But re-roofing the high school out of the 2000-2001 budget will not be without its ramifications.

"We will really have to closely watch the funds we use for other building construction and maintenance purposes," Jones said. "Painting and other things that have to be done will be done, but we’re going to have to keep it tight because there simply isn’t enough money to do everything that we would like to."

The largest budget expense comes from payroll, with $6.5 million being spend in payroll costs and benefits. The costs include 149 teachers, three librarians, six counselors, 12 administrators, and 77.25 non-certified support personnel for a total of 247 employees.

This year’s budget is very similar to last year’s which projected a nearly $13.2 million budget.

Projected enrollment is 2,227 students for the 2000-2001 year.