COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System has yet to present an official budget for next school year, but already school officials are planning for a nearly $3 million deficit at the end of the 2014-15 school year if the economy remains the same.
NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews said in his Superintendent's End-of-Month Notes released Thursday that the system's general fund could have a deficit of $2,836,696 if tax assessor projections hold true with a 6 to 7 percent drop in the local tax digest.
He said if that is the case, then NCSS could have to reduce its 2014-15 budget by $7,298,561 in order to retain a "minimalist" fund balance of about $4.5 million, or "a mere" 3 percent. State experts recommend a fund balance of 7 percent, or just under $10 million for NCSS, he added.
"The national economic meltdown -- reflected locally -- has prevented a 7 percent fund balance to say the least," Mathews said.
This school year, the ending fund balance is expected to be about $13.6 million, but next school year, the balance would drop to just under $6 million, according to NCSS projections.
They show that revenues will jump to just under $132 million next school year, compared to about $130.5 million this year, while expenditures would increase to about $139.5 million next year, up from about $135.5 million this school year.
System officials have reviewed school budget packets this month and are working through April 15 to compile a preliminary budget for the system for next school year, according to the system budget calendar.
On April 16, Mathews plans to discuss preliminary budget date with the Newton County Board of Education. He and his staff will work in April and May to finalize a tentative budget.
On May 14, the superintendent plans to present the tentative budget to the school board. From May 6 through 10 and again from May 21 through June 4, the school board may hold work sessions on the tentative budget.
On May 21, the school board plans to adopt a tentative budget, but the budget can change until final adoption on June 11.
From June 19 through July 16, the school board may hold public hearings related to the millage rate for next year. The board plans to adopt a millage rate on July 16.