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Gainesville school board approves month to month budget
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The Gainesville City Board of Education passed a continuing resolution Monday to extend the system’s ability to operate on a monthly budget through August.

The school board unanimously voted to extend the continuing resolution through August to allow the board time to determine which 2009 fiscal year budget cuts will have the smallest effect on classroom instruction.

Members of the board said they were unable to pass a budget for the 2009 fiscal year, which began July 1, by the state Department of Education’s June 30 deadline due to numerous errors made in the district’s accounting department in the past several years. The board adopted a continuing resolution in late June to allow the school system to operate on a one month budget for July. At that point, the board was planning to pass a budget on July 29.

David Syfan, chairman of the school board, said the board is working with Janet Allison, director of finance for the school system, to review the tedious details of the budget and the 2007 state audit so that no more errors are made in the budgeting process.

"Part of it is because the numbers on the sheets, from what I understand, for the recommended budget cuts ... weren’t accurate; that some of the numbers were from the prior fiscal year," Syfan said.

In late June, Allison told the board she estimated the school system faced a $6.5 million deficit. But after correcting accounting errors, she estimates the school system now faces a roughly $5.5 million deficit.

Syfan said the board is committed to adopting a budget with which they feel comfortable.

But with Aug. 7, the first day of school, drawing near, the board must decide before certain programs begin which cuts they will make to the proposed $61.6 million budget for this fiscal year.

The board will hold a called meeting at 5 p.m. Monday to take action on "time-sensitive" cuts that will affect students and teachers.

"Certain items we’ve got to do or not do, because you sort of trap people into doing them if we don’t give them notice," Syfan said. "One example is the day care ... and pre-K. ... The teachers have got to know whether we’ll have (a day care) or not, and if not, they’re going to have to scramble to find a day care for their kids."

Kelvin Simmons, a member of the board’s finance committee, said the board is down to the wire in adopting a budget,

"I think with school opening up in two weeks, we need to get this done this week," Simmons said. "We have minutes now."

Simmons and Sammy Smith, board treasurer, comprise the board’s finance committee. They designated Wednesday as a day they could meet with Allison to review specific potential cuts.

Merrianne Dyer, the school system’s new interim superintendent, urged the board to "leave no stone unturned."

After the finance committee meets with Allison Wednesday, the board may propose budget cuts Monday. The school system’s staff then will review cuts before the board considers them for final action.

The board also authorized Dyer to send a letter of intent to the state Department of Education notifying it the Gainesville City Board of Education may request an alternate intent with the $4.3 million the state allocated to the system for the Mundy Mill Elementary project.

Syfan said the letter of intent, due to the state by July 31, could provide the board more time to work with the state on how the board may best use those "dedicated funds." Smith said the school board would have until mid-August to work with the state in determining an alternate intent for the funds.

Also at the meeting, the board acknowledged Sally Meadors, principal of Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

Gov. Sonny Perdue recently recognized Meadors as a high-performing principal, noting the schools’ consistently high Criterion-Referenced Competency Test scores in the past five years.