Oxford retail bolsters city schools budget
by Eddie Burkhalter
Sep 11, 2013 | 3261 views |  0 comments | 58 58 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OXFORD – Oxford’s schools continue to reap the benefits of the city’s retail growth, a fact reflected in the school district’s proposed $42.7 million budget for the 2014 fiscal year.

The district expects to keep more than three months of operating reserve in its general fund at the end of the next fiscal year, according to the first reading of the budget, held this morning.

Robby Jordan, the school system’s chief financial officer, told the Oxford City Board of Education that the district expects to spend approximately $42.7 million in the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. That’s more than the $41.9 million in projected revenue, but the $12 million the school system has in reserve will provide more than enough to make up the difference.

The district’s general fund reserve balance – over which the board has the most discretion – is projected to be $9.3 million at the beginning of the fiscal year, and $8.9 million by the fiscal year’s end.

The state is expected to provide $22.1 million in funding, and local revenue is expected to total $16 million. The federal government will contribute $3.5 million, and $334,000 will come from other sources.

The largest portion of local revenue will come from Oxford’s municipal sales tax collections, according to the budget, $5.2 million in 2014.

That $5.2 million in local money is more than most school systems in the state receive, Jordan said, which has made it possible to hire more locally funded teachers at several schools.

At C.E. Hanna Elementary, 34 of the school’s 40 teachers are paid for with local money. The remaining six teaches are paid with federal money. Of 50 teachers at Oxford Middle School, five are paid with local money. In all, 46 teachers will be paid with local money next fiscal year, an increase of six from last year, Jordan said.

“To be able to meet the needs and provide the programs that you all want to provide, it takes more locally paid teachers to do that,” Jordan told board members.

The district’s good financial standing also allows for a district-wide pay raise of 2 percent, which begins Oct. 1.

The school system’s bonded debt for FY 2014 is estimated to be $1.8 million. A payment of $776,000 to Apple Computer next year is for school-issued laptops. After 2014, the school system will have two more payments of $776,000 for those computers.

General fund expenditures will exceed revenue by about $348,000 next year, Jordan said, but he explained that won’t affect the school system’s bottom line very much.

“We’re able to meet all our obligations, pay all of our expenses and still maintain three months reserve,” Jordan said.

Eric Burrage, director of operations at Oxford schools, updated the board on how the district will spend some of the money in next year’s budget.

First on the list of priorities in a five-year capital plan is completion of a $750,000 renovation of the kitchen at Oxford Elementary, followed by a $4.4 million career tech building being constructed at Oxford High. Other projects for the near future include renovation of the district’s central office and the media center at Coldwater Elementary.

The board will meet Sept. 17 to vote on the proposed budget.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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