Pubdate: Tue, 11 Mar 2003
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2003 The Decatur Daily
Author: Deangelo McDaniel
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


HARTSELLE - The Hartselle Board of Education will ask the City Council for 
more money to help offset an estimated $1 million shortfall in state funding.

The school system was expecting a 6 percent cut in state funding, but the 
state told Superintendent Lee Hartsell on Monday to expect an 8 percent cut.

"That's almost $1 million," Hartsell said at Monday's school board meeting.

The superintendent suggested, and the board agreed, to ask the City Council 
for financial help.

City leaders already are planning to ask voters for a property tax 
increase, money the council would not see until next year. But the needs of 
the school system are immediate and collections from a sales tax could 
start before the 2003-2004 school budget begins in October.

"I was not expecting an 8 percent cut," Hartsell said. "We were told three 
weeks ago that it would be 5 percent. The state increased it to 6 percent 
at the superintendents' meeting last week.

State Deputy Superintendent Robert Morton faxed a letter on Monday advising 
that Hartselle plan for an 8 percent cut.

"It is always easier to add figures to your system's budget rather than 
deduct them," Morton said in the letter.

The Hartselle School Board talked about a plan last week that would 
eliminate 5 percent from its budget. That plan curtailed athletic spending 
and eliminated baseline drug testing for students, but it did not include 
any teacher cuts.

The board did not say whether the 8 percent figure would require teacher 
cuts, but agreed to meet in a work session tonight at 6 p.m. to discuss the 

If the council gives no financial assistance, Hartsell said the board would 
have to absorb the shortfall or cut $1 million from the budget.

The superintendent said the school system would have approximately $1 
million in the bank at the end of the current fiscal year on September 30.

Hartselle has lost almost $1 million to proration over the past two years. 
But the funding shortfall for the next budget is not due to proration. 
Hartsell said the school system's health insurance premium will increase 
about $375,000 annually and the funding for retirement is rising about 

State Superintendent Ed Richardson has asked members of the Alabama House 
and Senate budget writing committees for $234.5 million in additional 
funding for the new fiscal year.

If the budget committees give the additional money, Hartselle will receive 
$13.3 million, or approximately $700,000 more than in this fiscal year.
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MAP posted-by: Beth