County rolls out #036;15.5 million school budget

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 7, 2002

BNI Newswire

The Pike County Board of Education is taking an approximate $50,000 reduction in state funds in stride, rolling out the 2002-03 budget last week.

"We have probably come out with as good of a budget as we could under the current situation," Superintendent Dr. John Key said Tuesday.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Key said the reduction in state funds was predominantly due to a decline in enrollment.

"We get a certain amount of state dollars for each student. When our enrollment goes down, so does the amount of state money we get," Key said.

He cited a decline in birth rate over the past several years as the main reason enrollment numbers have gone down, but Key also pointed to the "out-migration of jobs."

"It’s the same thing as all other small towns are facing in the South," Key said. "The jobs just aren’t here."

Key said the Legislature has also put hardships on the budgeting process, something he said is an annual expectation.

"In my 23 years as a superintendent, they’ve never passed a really good budget, in my opinion," he said.

Most of Key’s frustrations come from underfunding programs the state adopts – including teacher pay raises.

"Every election year there is a pay raise that is partially, if at all, funded, so the rest of it has to be made up by local districts. That means we have to pull funds from other areas to cover what the state won’t," he said.

Overall, Pike County received $9.3 million in state funds. That, along with $2.5 million from the federal government, makes up the majority of this year’s nearly $15.5 million budget.

In preparing for the budget, Key said the board of education asked the county to levee additional taxes to make up for a steady decline in sales taxes, something Key said started shortly after Sept. 11.

"If the county had not levied those taxes, we would have faced state intervention. And who knows what they could have funded given their current budgeting constraints," Key said.

Even with a smaller budget, Key said the district has still been able to add new programs.

"We will have a teacher assisting with students passing graduation exams and other remedial programs to enhance the academic performance of our students," Key said.

And following last year’s cuts in personnel, Key said the district was able to replace lost teachers.

"We had to make some cuts last year, but we basically hired back what we had lost," he said. "Our philosophy is that you can’t offer the programs if you don’t have the teachers to teach them."

Still, some situations are not ideal.

"We did take some hits in the way some teacher units and administrator units are funded," Key said. "That means we might not have a full-time counselor at one school, but a counselor that splits her time between two different schools."