County school system's millage rate not expected to increase

COVINGTON - Newton County School System Superintendent Steven Whatley presented the 2009-10 school year tentative general fund budget for the first time during Tuesday's Newton County Board of Education monthly work session.

The proposed budget totals $158,547,706 in revenue and $149,090,406 in expenditures, leaving an ending reserve fund balance of $9,457,300.

"This will depend on what happens on the budget from the governor and ... the local tax digest and if it comes in as anticipated," Whatley said.

With the planned budget, the board doesn't expect to increase its millage rate, leaving it at 19.21 mills, with 18.21 mills used for maintenance and operations and 1 mill used for debt service. Whatley did add that the value of a mill has decreased since the beginning of the last school year.

The proposed budget is a 3 percent increase, or a difference of $4,479,924, over this year's budget.

The final budget isn't expected to be approved by the school board until June and is subject to change.

The proposed budget includes revenue made up of more than 40 percent in local sources and nearly 60 percent from state sources. The expenditures include nearly 88 percent in salaries and benefits, 3 percent in utilities and fuel, 4 percent in repairs and maintenance and about 5 percent in equipment and furniture, textbooks and supplies and other items like staff development, insurance and professional services and fees.

The budget is built on student enrollment, with a minimum projected enrollment of 19,845 students and a maximum of 21,394. NCSS student enrollment is 19,188 and has grown by only a couple hundred students since last school year. It also includes a decrease of more than 57 school- and system-level positions.

Whatley said NCSS officials plan to watch the state budget and the local tax situation to determine if any changes need to be made between now and June.

The Newton County BOE is expected to hold its monthly work session June 9 and a regular session meeting June 16. Both are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the board room at the Newton County BOE building at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.