County BOE approves 2004 budget

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 16, 2003

With the cut in state school funding, small school systems are being asked to choose between paying bills and maintaining high academics, said county school superintendent Luke Hallmark. "We want to do both, but I know if we don’t pay our bills, the state department is going to come in."

The Marengo County Board of Education formally approved its revised fiscal 2004 budget Monday. Revenues of $8,280,202.00 are expected to exceed expenditures of $8,216,755.00.

The county system had prepared a budget before the Amendment One vote. County schools will lose $207,000 with the revised budget, Hallmark said.

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State funds for technology, library enhancement and professional development have been eliminated. Textbooks took a cut of $86,000, he said. "To cut from $57.50 per student to $7.19 per student (for textbooks) is unacceptable," Hallmark said.

Funds for transportation are down $81,000, and At-Risk funds are down $15,000.

Ninety percent of the budget is salaries and benefits. A portion of At-Risk funds are having to go toward salaries, he said.

The state is expected to face a $250 million shortfall for fiscal year 2005, Hallmark said.

Hallmark reported that the current county one-cent sales tax had taken in $1.86 million for fiscal year 2003. County schools received approximately 36 percent of that revenue. That percentage will be readjusted after the first 40 days of daily attendance is tabulated for the 2004 school year.

The next meeting of the county BOE will be at 4 p.m. on October 30 at the Marengo County Courthouse.