Barrow BOE deficit continues to climb
Deficit increases to $4 million
BY KRISTI REED
The Barrow County Board of Education authorized the expenditure of an additional $310,000 to fund the purchase of five additional buses at the May 15 called meeting. The buses are in addition to the ten buses approved by the board last week as part of the fiscal year 2009 budget.
The board had initially refused to approve the purchase due to concerns about cash flow. Under the terms of a financing deal negotiated by transportation director Dr. James Cantrell, the school system will be able to finance the five additional buses for one year at a rate of 4.23 percent. The terms of the deal allow the loan to be repaid at any time during the term with no prepayment penalties. The payment will be due in one lump sum at the end of the loan term.
With the additional expenditures, the school system’s projected 2009 deficit will grow to over $4 million.
The most current projections show Barrow County Schools ending the 2008 fiscal year with reserves of $7 million. The school system will dip into these reserves to cover the projected 2009 deficit, leaving $3 million in reserves at the end of the next fiscal year.
In the past three weeks, additions to the 2009 budget have increased projected Barrow County School expenditures from $100.5 million to $102.1 million.
The additions include funding for two career center coordinators, additional computers, two school social workers, six school nurses, roofing improvements, additional money for fuel and bus purchases.
The board is also considering further budget additions.
One item under consideration is the addition of another assistant superintendant position. Another item up for discussion is a request from the Piedmont Regional Library System to provided further monetary assistance for the upcoming year.
Last year, Barrow County Schools provided $50,000 to the library system for bookmobile service to eleven schools along with additional staffing for the Winder library.
In the next fiscal year, the library system is asking the board to approved funding of $75,200. The additional funds will be used to allow the Auburn and Statham libraries to extend their operating hours. The money will also be used to purchase more children and young adult books for all three of the county’s libraries.
Alan Harkness, regional director of the library system, said the increased funding will keep the Barrow Board of Education in line with what other regional members are paying. Harkness said the City of Winder will donate $100,000 next year and that Barrow County has been asked to triple its contribution.
The board will consider the funding request at its next meeting on Thursday, May 22 at 6 p.m. The board meets at 179 W. Athens Street in Winder.