• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

2016-17 budget presented to board

Because there are so many unknowns related to state and local funding, Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith told Woodford County Board of Education members that she has “planned conservatively” during her presentation of the 2016-17 draft budget on Tuesday night. Woodford County Public Schools does not know how much local tax revenue it will receive (based on property assessments) or how much state funding it will receive (based on average daily attendance) until a state budget has been adopted. “We are hoping that we have a state budget by May so that when I bring the tentative budget to you I have something (more) to go on,” said Smith. Board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV predicted that school districts will be required to contribute an unknown amount of dollars toward the state teacher retirement fund, which has unfunded liabilities. “There’s absolutely no way that we won’t be paying more. Absolutely no way,” he said. Despite the many uncertainties in terms of state and local funding, Smith said next school year’s draft budget assumes a 4 percent growth in local property tax revenue and includes the purchase of four new school buses, which comes out of a projected general fund of $37.9 million. The draft budget includes incremental pay raises for employees based on experience, but does not include an across-the-board raise for employees. However, state lawmakers could mandate a pay raise for all employees during its current legislative session. “We just need to persevere through a lot of unknowns,” said Smith of the budget process. She said a projected contingency of 11.5 percent provides a cushion if state funding reductions occur. The board will be asked to approve a recommended draft budget for the 2016-17 school year at its regular meeting next Monday night, Jan. 25, at 6. During Tuesday’s budget discussion, Wilson again raised his concern about the district’s adult education program not receiving sufficient funding for its operations. He said, “It just doesn’t make sense to me” that they don’t need anything when the program doesn’t even have its own building to call home. Smith told Wilson that she had spoken with adult education Director Tammy Bramlett, and “she told me that she felt like her grants covered everything” that she needed to operate the program. Financial report Woodford County Public Schools began the month of December with a total cash balance of $13.69 million and ended the month with $13.54 million. A bond payment of $150,837.51 was made in December, according to Smith’s financial report to the board. In a related matter, the board will be asked to approve a debt assistance offer next Tuesday that will increase its bonding potential by about $1.4 million. The state will pay back the debt on behalf of the district, with those dollars available beginning July 1, 2016. Travel request Next Monday night, the board will be asked to approve a travel request so the high school baseball team can travel to Fort Walton Beach, Fla., to play in a tournament during spring break. The trip will be paid with dollars from fundraisers, with individuals paying the difference. The only concern raised by board members during Tuesday’s planning meeting was whether or not a teacher from the high school would accompany students on the trip. Because the team’s coaches are likely paraprofessionals and not employed by the district in any other capacity, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins agreed to check the district’s policy regarding out-of-state trips prior to next week’s action.

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