2015-16 budget balanced but much to make up before next year
LOUISA – The Lawrence County Board of Education held a special meeting Monday evening and continued the difficult yet critical work of examining budget figures and attempting to preserve employment while grappling with rising costs and diminishing revenues.
The Lawrence County School District has been able to realize savings of $394,989, and in so doing the tentative 2015-16 Fiscal Year budget has been balanced and a contingency fund of 2.5% maintained.
“The budget working session included some tough decisions for our district. The state government has mandated a 2% (well-deserved) raise for all employees, but sufficient funding for the increase has not been provided by the state. This and other factors have required a $400,000 cut in services that we provide to our staff and to our students.
I have spoken with several superintendents across the state, and most have to make similar tough decisions to help provide a quality education to kids while having more financial requirements on their budgets. The Lawrence County Board of Education has worked very hard to try to soften the blow to our students’ classrooms by looking at alternate funding sources, bidding different services to find the best prices, and other areas, but again these decisions are not easy,” said Lawrence County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robbie Fletcher of the meeting.
Minimizing teacher cuts has been a primary target of the Board’s budget work this spring and in step with Dr. Fletcher’s goal of gearing all district resources toward producing a proficient learning community. But he cautioned that further budget difficulties could also remain. He pointed out that despite meeting fiscal targets for the 2015/16 year, the next budget year would remain a significant challenge to be addressed.
Also in the meeting, District Information and Technology Director Tommy Burns presented the technology plan and pointed out that about 80% of the computers used by the district are older than the ideal and the technology deficits faced by the district are significant, but also stated work is underway to address problems and also pointed out that the district is in the running for a grant to provide 1-to-1 devices for students to use and that would be a major leap forward.
Health Services Director Vicki Moore informed the board of the plan to continue providing health services throughout the district. Chairman D. Heath Preston said he had personally “heard good things” about the school nurses and the Board did “not take lightly” dealing with financial issues and its impacts on nursing services.