Polk County Schools approves new budget with reduced state funding

Published 2:40 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More than two months after the current fiscal year began, Polk County Schools has a final, approved budget.

The school system previously approved a temporary budget because the state, which faced a large budget shortfall, was slow to finalize its budget. Eventually, the state approved a budget with cuts to education funding.

Polk County Schools Supt. Bill Miller says Polk&squo;s new budget for fiscal year 2009-2010, is balanced, assuming it does receive funds the state has allocated for schools. The current fiscal year began July 1.

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The state funding, which includes $16.11 million from the Public School Fund, represents about 56 percent of the school&squo;s system&squo;s funding. Local funds, which include a $4.45 million contribution from Polk County, represent about 23 percent of the district&squo;s funding. Federal revenue represents about 12 percent.

During the previous fiscal year, the state asked districts to return some state funds because of sharp drops in revenue caused by the slumping economy.

The school district had anticipated state funding cuts in the new fiscal year and took action to reduce expenses. About 10 positions were cut, and expenses were cut in several other areas. Supt. Miller notes that each school is receiving about 25 percent less in supplies this year.

The district also obtained approval from Polk County commissioners to move some funds from the capital fund to cover operational costs. this year. Supt. Miller says $150,000 was transferred for operational costs, leaving $162,000 in the capital fund for building needs.

The remaining capital funds will be used for general renovations ($70,000) at each school as needed, and renovations at Polk Central ($62,000) to wire the school for the latest instructional technology.

When the renovation is complete, Polk Central teachers will have access to the same types of technology used at the new middle school, says Miller.

The capital outlay plan has funding for lights at the high school soccer field, including $15,000 from the Polk County Community Foundation and $8,984.31 raised from the community in general.

However, the funds raised are not sufficient to comply with requirements in the foundation&squo;s grant and the school district now plans to ask the foundation if it can do the project in phases instead.

The capital fund also includes $20,000 for computers and technology since the state included no funding for technology. The school system has to routinely replace existing computers and other technological equipment.

The new state budget also did not include any funding for staff development. However, Polk County Schools plans to try to complete some staff development work during in-service days.