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Gainesville school board keeps financial wheels rolling for 30 days
Continuing resolution lets system operate while it compiles new budget
Gainesville school board Chairman Willie Mitchell, left, discusses changes in the wording of a resolution with board member David Syfan during Monday meeting. - photo by Tom Reed

The Gainesville city school board unanimously approved a continuing resolution to allow the school district to operate on 30-day budget periods until the board can approve a fiscal year 2009 budget.

Janet Allison, finance director for Gainesville city schools, said Monday that the board aims to adopt the fiscal year 2009 budget on July 29.

The board also accepted the resignation of Mike Kemp, former principal of Gainesville High School, and approved Chris Mance as interim principal of the high school.

Mance has served as an assistant principal of the high school for several years.

Originally, the board intended to pass the upcoming year’s budget Monday, but was unable to approve a budget by the state Department of Education’s June 30 deadline, which marks the end of the fiscal year. Numerous accounting errors coupled with projected shortfalls in revenue have left the board with the task of devising a budget that can begin cutting the school system’s estimated $6.5 million deficit.

In June, Allison compiled a tentative $61.6 million budget for the school board that estimates the school system could end the 2009 fiscal year with a deficit of $5.1 million.

She said roughly $1.4 million of surplus funds from the proposed budget could be applied to the $6.5 million deficit.

Allison said she needs more time to evaluate possible budget cuts, and the board needs time to evaluate the effects of proposed cuts on teachers, students and academic programs before it can adopt a final budget.

Although the board briefly debated the wording of the continuing resolution explaining the need for a late budget adoption, it decided to approve the resolution that authorizes the superintendent or board designee to spend no more than one-twelfth of the final amended budget for all funds for the 2008 fiscal year.

The resolution allows the system flexibility for expenditures typical in July as it prepares to open school in August.

"We cannot spend a dime without passing this continuing resolution," Allison told board members.

As far as the board determined at its retreat Saturday, there are no penalties to adopting a budget after the June 30 deadline other than creating a monthly spending resolution detailing revenues and expenditures.

Also, the school board called a meeting at noon Thursday to discuss personnel issues that could include determining a fixed chairman for the board. Members of the Gainesville City Board of Education take turns serving as chairperson of the board each month.

Sammy Smith, a member of the school board, said the meeting Thursday was not called to discuss the evaluation of Steven Ballowe, superintendent of Gainesville city schools.

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