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Troy Board of Education to borrow money to meet shortfall

The Troy Board of Education is planning to borrow $365,000 for the upcoming school year to meet a shortfall in the budget that Chief Financial Officer Mickey Daughtry said the school system can’t meet any other way.

“We’re going to have to borrow money to stay afloat,” Daughtry said. “We’re trying to cut the budget as much as possible without cutting programs. Cutting would do away with all local units, and we are required to have some of those to draw federal funding and it would cut out any instructional support funding.”

Daughtry said the city has been made aware of the shortfall and the plan to borrow money to level the budget. The city will act as guarantor on a line of credit from Regions Bank to fill the gap.

Daughtry said local funding was down, partially because he did not include any money from the City of Troy. He said the city contribution was left out because $700,000 that was factored into the current year’s budget never came through for the school system.

“If the city is not going to give us money, we should shut some of the programs down,” said board member Wally Lowery.

“That will only hurt the students though,” said Dr. Lee Hicks, superintendent. “And if we cut the local units, we would lose federal dollars.”

Daughtry said the best solution is to take this route of borrowing money as he expects the city’s economic boon to change the system’s situation.

“Think about the projects coming into play now – Kimber, Rex Lumber, Conecuh Ridge Distillery, Publix is still coming on – we’re within two years from looking at an entirely different set of problems. If just half of those new jobs bring in families with children, we’ll be looking at needing extra teachers for all these extra students. That’s a problem we want to have; we’ll b looking at better times. We have to let the problem work itself out.”

Daughtry said he is also talking with city officials about looking at recommendations for more revenue streams.

Hicks said the board could have the state be the guarantor on the line of credit if desired.

“In good faith, we’re letting the city show us that they want to help us,” Hicks said.

Hicks said the board is out of places to turn as far as cutting down the budget.

“Every year we’ve had to cut and cut and cut,” Hicks said. “We don’t have any fluff; there’s nothing you can say ‘Oh, if they can do away with this, you would save some money. There’s no one item you can save on.

“We’ve been buying one bus at a time,” Hicks said. “Our busses are 10 years old now. The next cuts are literally things that everybody will feel, we’re talking major, major cuts. Taking away those things does not punish the city or anybody else – it punishes the child. The frustrating thing is we’ve cut so much and worked in a shade of gray so much.”

“If you don’t fund schools, you have an opportunity gap,” said Brock Kelley, principal of Charles Henderson High School. “That turns into attitude gaps. Students give up, they don’t care. That then turns into an achievement gap. When you don’t have funding or don’t want to fund something, it’s ultimately going to affect your city.”

The Troy Board of Education will meet again Monday, September 17 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss the budget one last time and take public input before approving the budget for the new fiscal year that begins in October.