General fund balance grows in Jasper schools budget

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The Jasper City Board of Education has approved its budget for the next fiscal year, showing growth in its general fund balance and listing a number of capital improvements, including relocation of the central office. 

Two public hearings were held Sept. 8-9 regarding the budget, and it was officially approved on Wednesday.

The approved budget will be effective from Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021.

Chief School Financial Officer Monique Rector presented the budget in detail to school board members and superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson.

The school system will begin this fiscal year with an estimated general fund balance of just over $11.2 million and end the year with a balance of over $11.6 million.

"It's actually a gain of almost $388,000," Rector said. "We expect a gain in special revenue of $13,475, which will bring our projected ending balance (in the special revenue fund) up to $927,000."

She added, "Capital projects is our big one this year. We're expecting to spend a great deal of money on capital projects. Even though we're starting this year with a little over $8 million, we anticipate using the bulk of those funds and bringing our projected ending balance down to $2.6 million."

Rector said those capital projects include:

• $2.9 million for completing the track and tennis complexes at Jasper High School.

• $1.1 million for installing a new roof at Maddox Intermediate School.

• $576,000 for turf installation and finishing touches of the high school's baseball field.

• $473,000 for replacing the roof at Songer Gymnasium.

• $223,000 for renovating the old Walker High School that would allow for relocation of the central office.

The school system will reportedly spend $5.7 million in capital projects during the upcoming fiscal year. 

Other expenditures include, but are not limited to, instructional services of just over $14.6 million, instructional support services of over $4 million, operation and maintenance costs of $2.4 million, and general administrative services of over $1.2 million. Expenditures in the general fund are expected at over $23.8 million.

The school system expects to end the fiscal year with a total funds balance of just over $15.7 million.  

Jasper City Schools receives state, federal, and local revenues throughout the fiscal year. State revenues in the general fund are expected to total roughly $16 million and would include $14.7 million from the Foundation Program (general education funding for schools).

Federal revenues in all funds are expected to total $3.2 million and will include Title I funding, CARES Act funding of roughly $939,000, and USDA funds of $750,054.

Local revenues include county ad valorem revenue of $820,000; a business privilege tax of $33,500; county sales tax of over $4.4 million; other county taxes of $112,000; district ad valorem of $660,000; district sales tax of $2.3 million; and other revenues, totaling $8.6 million in local revenue.  

Total revenues from all sources will be just over $32.1 million.

Included in each year's budget are some general statistics on enrollment, employees, and spending at each school.

The total enrollment for the school system is 2,604 students. The school system has a total of 324 teaching units that include regular teachers, librarians, counselors, administrators, certified support personnel, and non-certified support personnel. 

In terms of individual school expenditures, Jasper High School has the highest expenditures, totaling $13.6 million in all funds combined. The majority of the costs are for instructional services.

Total expenditures for other schools are estimated at $2.9 million for Jasper Jr. High School; $4.3 million for T.R. Simmons Elementary; $3.8 million for Memorial Park Elementary School; $6.3 million for Maddox Intermediate School; and $462,897 for the alternative school.

Rector said she believes the school system has a strong budget for the upcoming fiscal year, especially considering the nationwide impact of COVID-19.  

"It's a great budget. This $388,000 increase in the general fund during this time is really good," she said.

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