MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) The Madison County school district will have a tight budget for fiscal year 2015. However, it will have the money to do what it has planned, the district’s chief financial officer said Thursday night.
Karen O’Bannon is the chief financial officer for the Madison County School District. She says there are several factors behind the budget crunch, but all of them involve a lack in revenue.
“Every year, it seems to be a bit more challenging to prepare the budget, because as our needs continue to grow, we don’t have the revenues to keep up with those needs,” O’Bannon said. “This school district has not had a new revenue stream in, now, 28 years.”
Board member Dan Nash is frustrated with the choices the board is being forced to make due to the lack in revenue. Nash said the residents throughout the county need to do something to increase the district’s revenues.
“It’s not because of opening a new intermediate school that we’re struggling. We’re struggling because for 10 years, we have had inadequate funding,” Nash said.
Some of the budget problems are already being felt by students this year. The district implemented a new staggered school schedule that includes double routes for the school buses. O’Bannon said the schedule saved $2.1 million by eliminating bus overcrowding without having to add 25 additional school buses to the fleet.
“We are definitely seeing the results of what six years of inadequate funding for transportation has forced us to do,” O’Bannon said.
The county schools’ sales tax rate is the lowest of the school districts in the area. Huntsville’s rate is 9 percent and Madison’s is 8 percent. The district’s 2015-2019 capital plan, which also contains another $77 million in unfunded projects, was approved by the board Thursday night.
The district will also have to rely on its $12 million in the bank for any repair work to the schools this coming year.
(Our news partners at The Huntsville Times contributed to this report, read more of their coverage here)