Greater revenue reduces shortfall in school budget

The Columbia County school system will begin the 2007-08 academic year with a budget shortfall of about $178,000.


Officials aren't complaining too loudly, however.

"We've never been in this position, this close to a balanced situation, over the recent history," Superintendent Tommy Price said.

Preliminary figures put the expenditures for 2007-08 at $165.1 million, which is an increase of about $15 million from the current school year. Revenues are estimated at $164.9 million.

Last year, the county started the school year with a deficit of about $3 million.

Mr. Price attributed the reduced gap to greater revenue and fewer expenditures than expected last year.

"I'm hoping there's not going to be one in the end," he said of the shortfall.

Local revenues are estimated at more than $63 million, based on a 10 percent increase in the county tax digest and maintenance of the current millage rate of 17.18.

The proposed state share for the 2007-08 budget is $101 million, and federal revenues will total about $445,000.

The bulk of the expenditures would be for salaries and benefits, which make up 90.3 percent of the budget.

Discretionary spending accounts for 6 percent, and fixed costs make up 4 percent. Discretionary spending includes teaching supplies, technology and other equipment. Fixed costs include utilities, textbooks, insurance and fuel.

Mr. Price said the proposed budget is based on a student population of 22,377, an increase of 680.

The school system also will add 75 new certified and 59 noncertified positions because of the increased student population and the opening of Cedar Ridge Elementary School in Grovetown.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or


$165,140,203: Proposed expenditures for the Columbia County school system's 2007-08 budget

$164,961,588 million: Expected revenue

90.3: Percent of budget proposed for salaries and benefits

6: Percent of budget proposed for discretionary spending

4: Percent of budget proposed for fixed costs

3: Percent of state-mandated pay increase for education employees

1.82: Percent of health insurance increase