Houston school board approves fiscal 2013 budget, drawing $27.5 million from reserves

PERRY -- The Houston County Board of Education unanimously approved its fiscal 2013 budget Wednesday.

The approved budget allows for nearly $280 million in revenue and more than $307 million in expenditures. The more than $27.5 million difference will be paid with the district’s fund balance, which will level off at $65.8 million at the end of fiscal 2013.

By using the funds, the district will be able to operate under a normal 180-day school year and fully fund staff without staff reductions, said Stephen Thublin, assistant superintendent for finance and business operations. District officials also have said the millage rate will remain at its current 13.34 mills.

The numbers approved Wednesday featured an additional $741,000 in the fund balance which will be left over from the current fiscal year, as the district was recently provided July and August accrual calculations.

District officials expect the general fund budget to show revenues of more than $215 million, an increase of more than $5.2 million over the anticipated fiscal 2012 level. They expect to spend more than $217 million from that fund, a more than $1.6 million increase over last year.

The budget allocates more than 69 percent to instruction, 8 percent to school administration, nearly 8 percent to maintenance and operations, more than 4 percent to student transportation, more than 5 percent to other pupil and school functions, and more than 4 percent to staff development, workers’ compensation and central administrative areas.

More than 90 percent of expenditures will go toward personnel costs, with salaries and benefits accounting for more than 68 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

The 2013 budget also includes 14 additional certified positions, including six new special education teachers, an assistant principal, a speech language pathologist and five systemwide positions to work with schools and teachers. A classified occupational therapist assistant also has been added. These additions total more than $885,000 from the general fund.

All eligible certified employees will receive an additional service year on the state teacher pay scale, as mandated by the state. That expense will cost the district more than $2 million.

The fiscal year begins Sunday.