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Schools able to weather first storm

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By The Staff

SHEPHERDSVILLE - With no major changes expected from the recent special session, Bullitt County officials believe they will be OK financially for the next fiscal year.

But they aren’t as confident about the years after that.

While the district is utilizing a different pot of money for the many construction projects underway, superintendent Keith Davis and finance director Denise Smith felt confident in the proposed 2009-10 budget.

During a recent presentation to the school board, Smith said the total budget would be over $112 million and the contingency fund of 2.32 percent (or $2.6 million) exceeded the 2 percent state million but was short of what Davis would like to see.

“I think we’re in as good a shape as possible,” said Davis. “I’m really concerned about the following year.”

Smith said the state has mandated the 1 percent pay increase for teachers and the district would do that for all employees. Davis said he was concerned whether the state would come through with the funding or if the district would be forced to pay that cost.

Many teachers would also be eligible for step increases, which average about 2 percent pay hikes, said Davis.

No layoffs of teachers are planned, according to Davis, due to the growing student population.

As part of the budget, Smith said classroom size will remain below the state caps but that no replacement vehicles were planned.

Since that meeting, the district was able to purchase several special needs buses through the federal stimulus funding.

The district would spend 78 percent of its upcoming budget on salaries and fringe benefits, which is actually lower than previous years.

“This can’t go on,” Davis said of the funding cutbacks from the state. “If this continues, it will start to cut into the classrooms.”

Davis said he was pleased that the class sizes would remain as low as possible.

In Oldham County, the elementary classes went to 24 students and 50 positions were cut. Bullitt County class sizes will remain at 22 in elementary grades.

“I hope you pull it off,” board member Gary Wooldridge.

He is looking for the need to make cuts in the coming year.

With the district in the bottom third for per pupil spending in the state, Davis said it is hard to tighten the spending any more.

The energy conservation measures have been able to save major dollars for the district and Davis said that should improve even more with the new schools opening and the improvements made in the controls at all facilities.

The board will vote one more time in September on the 2009-10 budget.