PRC School District holds budget hearing

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Budgeting is getting tight for the Pearl River County school district. During a budget hearing held Monday night, business administrator T.J. Burleson mentioned a couple of potential additions to the budget and the amount of fund balance the Board can dip into for the next fiscal year.

Burleson pitched a need to replace out of warranty computer equipment throughout the district. The move would include approximately 300 computers, 150 smartboards, and eight servers.

“Anything older than three-years-old would be recycled. Also, we would try and repurpose anything younger than that,” said Burleson.

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The new equipment, Burleson said, would be strictly for the staff, meaning computers for teachers and office staff. The equipment that can be salvaged would then be moved to the older labs.

“I don’t want to provide a scare factor, but these servers are going to crash soon. I am very worried that next time we run into a power issue in the district, some of them are not going to come back on. We are going to have to spend some money at some point very soon,” said Newton.

Jeremy Weir, Board president, said he was not comfortable to get that close to the bottom of the budget for the replacement of computer equipment, however leasing the equipment for four years seemed more logical.

“With technology changing at a fast pace, I feel as if leasing the equipment would be the best alternative,” said Board of Education representative Elaine Voss.

The district’s estimated fund balance, or savings, will be $4.4 million at the end of this fiscal year, Burleson said. With the Board policy of reserving 20 percent, Burleson said the unreserved fund balance that can be accessed and used for the next year is approximately $500,000.

For the district maintenance budget, the expenditures, $20.8 million, exceed revenues, $20.7 million. Burleson suggested covering the excess of $85,410 with the fund balance. If the Board approves the suggestion at their next meeting, it will leave $414,589, which can be used to upgrade computer equipment and participate in the Community Eligibility Program through Child Nutrition at upper elementary, lower elementary, and endeavor school.

“I estimate that $50,000 would have to come from the district to provide this program for the kids. The program provides all students with free breakfast and lunch without signing a bunch of paperwork. They would automatically get the free lunch and breakfast,” said Burleson.

Also mentioned in the meeting, MAEP state funding increased $181,944 from the fiscal year of 2016 to 2017.

For the past four years, the Board has asked for a zero percent increase in their millage, which is going to continue in the next fiscal year, said Burleson. Operation expenses paid by ad valorem are $5.1 million, $402,922 will go towards retiring bonds, and $130,062 will be put toward the three-mill note. The overall ad valorem request was a little under $5.6 million.

Burleson said the total mills levied in the fiscal year of 2016 will be 61.07.

Approval of the budget will be considered at the next school board meeting on July 7.