Gadsden County Proposed School Budget

By: Lanetra Bennett
July 29, 2014

Gadsden County, FL - The Gadsden County School Board's proposed operating budget is a little more than last year's budget. However, administrators say there won't necessarily be any extra money coming in.

The Gadsden County Schools Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance, Kim Ferree, says, "The good news is there's starting to be increases in state funding."

But, she adds, "We've still felt the effect from long-term lack of funding over the years."

The proposed 2014-2015 operating budget for Gadsden County Schools is around $63 million. Last year's was around $58 million.

The spokesperson for Gadsden County Schools, Shaia Simmons, says, "We are not in a position where we have a surplus per se."

District school administrators say a chunk of any 'so-called' extra money will be going to the construction at Havana Middle School. Ferree says, the district has to pay back the $4 million it borrowed for the $5 million construction project.

Simmons says, "We actually only have $1 million more than we had in the previous year. That million will have to go back into reserves to ensure that we have the three percent that the state requires."

Budget officials say last year's reserve was about $2 million. That has now dropped to $1.7 million.

Ferree says playing catch-up after years of declining funds has been difficult. She says, "A lot of our facilities are older. We have some schools that are probably over 50 years old. We have a lot of facilities needs. If we could get a bigger allocation for that, even though we are a small rural district."

Simmons says, "We're still in a situation where we have to be very mindful. we don't have any additional funds. We won't be hiring on any additional individuals and we are still working to manage a very tight budget."

The school board is holding a hearing on the school budget and taxes is tonight at 6 at the Gadsden County School Board Office.

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