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Russellville City Schools CFO Lisa Witt gives the Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal presentation during the Russellville City Schools Board of Education meeting Sept. 12.

RCS BOE approves budget for FY-2023

Russellville City Schools CFO Lisa Witt presented the proposed Fiscal Year 2023 annual operating budget during the RCS Board of Education second budget hearing Sept. 12, which the board subsequently approved.

“We have had $41.3 million in revenues and expenditures,” reported Witt. “Our budget has a net overall increase to the general fund of $166,000.

“Our revenue is broken down into three categories: state, federal and local. Our state budget was good this year.”

In delving into some of the figures, Witt pointed out teacher stabilization funding from the previous year was lost, as it was one-time funding for three and half teaching positions. Witt said those positions had to be worked into the regular funding.

“Teacher supply money increased from $700 to $900,” noted Witt, adding that’s the largest amount it is has ever been.

She reported this is the fifth year in a row for the system to receive Advancement in Technology funds.

This year, capital projects include renovating the restrooms in the RHS auditorium, installing some fire monitoring equipment at RHS and doing some drainage and paving work at RHS.

Witt reported federal revenue is up and has remained elevated thanks to extra COVID-related federal money, which began in spring 2020.

“We’ve had eight allocations all together, and we’ve spent four of those,” she said. “We’re continuing to spend the other four, and they will be completely spent by fall 2024.”

She said among the items bought with the money were 1,200 Chromebooks to help with virtual learning. Other expenditures included the hiring of “roughly 35 new people,” including full-time teachers, part-time teachers, aides and an instructional coach, as well as a mental health position.

“That money has been put to good use,” Witt said. “We’ve been doing a lot of things with it, and it’s been great to have it.”

Local money, of course, is key to the system’s budget.

“If you want to do extra things, like AP classes or robotics or engineering or extracurricular activities, all that comes out of local money,” explained Witt. “If you don’t have local money, you have no fund balance. You have no savings. So, the local money allows us to build a fund balance and save from year to year and build up a couple of months operating expense.”

One source of local money which was new as of last year is the Simplified Sellers Use Tax, the tax on online purchases. In Franklin County, the County Commission retains a third of the amount received, and the remaining two thirds is divided between the city and county school systems, based on enrollment.

She estimated that tax to be around $180,000 in this budget. “It’s only going to grow because people are continuing to buy more and more online.”

Witt said in terms of expenditures, personnel expenses constitute the biggest component of the budget. “It’s about 70 percent. So, of $41 million, 70 percent is personnel – either salary supplements, stipends or benefits.

“That component is up 12 percent, which is a big jump, but it’s due to that raise,” Witt added. “The state gave an across-the-board 4 percent raise, and they extended the teacher salary schedule from 27 years to 35 years.”

Witt noted this is the second year for the Teams program, an effort “geared at attracting and retaining science and math teachers at the middle school and high school.” Witt said 19 teachers are participating in the program.

She reported one new state-funded position for this year. “We have been sharing a career coach with several other systems, and now we will have our own dedicated career coach for our system,” explained Witt, “and it even covers the benefits.”

She reported total staff budgeted equals 360, breaking down to 216 certificated and 144 support. Those figures, she warned, are inflated because of all the new people hired with federal money who won’t be on staff permanently.

Capital project plans include:

  • Repair and replace a portion of the roof at Russellville Elementary.
  • Purchase a new tractor for systemwide use.
  • Renovate the classrooms in the RHS auditorium building.
  • Add more new awnings at RHS to extend out to career tech.
  • Extend two of the fields at the Lee Complex.

Witt noted the Parks and Recreation department, which is under the RCS umbrella, maintains its own budget.

In other meeting business, RCS Superintendent Dr. Heath Grimes recognized members of the board for meeting the required training hours for school board governance for the 2021-2022 school year. That year ended June 30. He handed out certificates from the Alabama Association of School Boards.

The next regular meeting will be Oct. 27 at 8 a.m., with the work session Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m.

For more details of the system’s FY 2023 budget,  contact central office.

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