Highland 2015-16 School Budget Presented
“You all look so serious – it’s budget – it’s fun.”
Highland County School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott gave this satirical assessment at the end of his presentation of his proposed budget for the 2015-16 school year, and it was met by chuckles from his audience. The presentation was given at a special school board meeting held Tuesday evening, a week later than originally planned due to inclement weather.
Dr. Schott stepped the attendees through his budget proposals with a detailed presentation, discussing each line item in depth. Allocations were cut for administration, transportation, operations and maintenance, debt service, and the cafeteria. Instruction and technology were the only items that saw increases. The total budget amounts allocated for education and instruction were over 66%, as required by state law.
New programs and equipment for current curriculum were also proposed, including a landscaping class; industrial maintenance and trade; STEM classes, which focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics; Microsoft certification classes; kitchen equipment for home economics; and bringing handwriting classes back for grades Two – Five.
Overall, the budget has been cut by 1.06%, a difference of $44,004 over the current budget. However, the reduction in costs is overshadowed by an even larger reduction in revenue. Income to the school system will be reduced in nearly all categories, including a 2.7% reduction from the state, a 79% reduction from the Secure Rural Federal Forest Fund, a 5.9% reduction from flow through (non-special education) and an 8.2% reduction in flow through (special education). Overall, revenue is down 5.1%, or $94,569, which means the shortfall will need to be made up from county funds. Dr. Schott anticipates asking the Board of Supervisors for a 2.2 % increase over what the county allotted for the schools this fiscal year, an increase of $50,565 , which would bring the requested amount for 2015-16 to $2,345,596. Members of the Board of Supervisors were present at the meeting to hear the presentation.
The school board will be addressing the budget proposal at it’s next regularly scheduled meeting, which will be Monday, March 2nd at 7:00 pm. Following the meeting, there will be a budget work session, and opportunity for public commentary.