Limestone County School board approves 2019 budget

LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. -- On Tuesday evening, Limestone County school leaders approved a plan to pay the bills next year. School leaders say they can't afford any more accounting mistakes which have burned them in the past.

With a round of hands raised, Limestone County school leaders said 'Yes' to what they hope will be a 2019 in the black.

"This was a big deal for us," Superintendent Tom Sisk said. What looks to be a belt-tightening for the growing school district.

Last spring, the school board had to dip into reserves after an accounting oversight of nearly $2 million. Superintendent Sisk says they want to avoid any more unexpected accounting errors.

"We're going to overestimate our expenses and underestimate our revenues," Sisk said.

School leaders are expected to see around $100 million in local, state and federal revenue next year, with plans to keep around $15 million in their fund balance next fall. Sisk admits it won't be easy. He's expecting over a thousand more kids enrolled this year, and less staff.

"About 17 fewer teachers and 12 support staff fewer than what we had the previous year," Sisk said.

Now six weeks into the school year, Sisk says they're done with hiring. But another challenge for the board is losing out on sales tax revenues to their neighbors.

"We send tens of millions of dollars in the shops in Madison and restaurants. And the by-product of that is we subsidize their schools when we shop there," Sisk explained.

Limestone County Schools' new Chief Financial Officer is just under a year on the job, and Sisk says they'll know where they stand financially by January.

This week, the school board also voted to hire Mark Isley, who'll become the new Executive Director of Human Relations and Operations.