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Jefferson school officials worry about budget
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JEFFERSON — While they are doing OK financially for now, Jefferson City Schools officials are casting worried glances at the budgets for upcoming years.

“You can’t just look at one (fiscal year), you really have to look at a two- to three-year time span,” said Kim Navas, system financial officer, during Thursday’s school board meeting.

Three-quarters through the year, existing revenue exceeds the system’s spending by more than $880,000, but system administrators are still concerned about the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Due to a decline in state revenue, Georgia officials pulled federal stimulus funds earmarked for fiscal 2011 into this fiscal year. Instead of the state distributing funds to cover individual department expenses, it used federal money.

“Ultimately, what that means is that if state revenue doesn’t pick up, we will see cuts again and again,” said Ronald Hopkins, school board chairman.

With a reduction in state funding, the Jefferson school system is looking at a possible $780,000 shortfall for fiscal 2011, Superintendent John Jackson said.

That estimation includes padding revenues with money from the system’s reserve fund and money saved through possible furlough days.

“If we roll over the same amount next year as we did last year, which was $500,000, that would bring (our reserve fund) down to $1.2 million,” Jackson said.

Board members aren’t supportive of dipping too far into emergency funds.

“Knowing that we have less money coming in from the state, we need to hang onto as much of the reserve as we can,” Hopkins said.
System staff are in the process of reviewing areas where funds could be saved.

During the meeting, the board also approved using a later state deadline for renewing employee contracts.

The deadline now will be May 15 instead of April 15, allowing the system to get a better picture of funds before awarding contracts.

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