The Fannin Board of Education passed its FY13 budget this week during a special called meeting.
The budget was passed unanimously, amid a series of recent financial struggles and in the face of future trials.
Superintendent Mark Henson started the session by recapping the district’s difficulties of recent months. He reminded the board that 14 teaching positions were eliminated, some through attrition and others through a reduction in force program. He also noted that state austerity reduction funding for 2012 was $2,128,514.
“We know that for FY13 we’re going to receive the same $2.1 million austerity reduction in QBE funds. We know our categorical funds and non-categorical funds can be withheld up to 10 percent”,
Henson continued. In addition to this, he went on to say that health insurance costs are going up for non-certified employees. According to the Department of Community Health, Henson said these increases will cost the district an additional $1 million beginning in July of 2014. Required by the state, the district is also responsible for step scale increases for teachers’ salaries and raises for teachers who earn advanced degrees.
Additionally, the Teaching Retirement System (TRS) employer portion for Fannin County has also increased from 10.28 percent to 11.1 percent per employee.
“The state health plan certified, which was supposed to be budget neutral, resulted in an increase and single rate for certified and non certified employees; both are expected an increase this year. Our state health benefit plan for non-certified increased by $150 per month,”
Along with the recent reduction in teaching force, the district has taken numerous measures to cut cost in the budget, such as combining bus routes and secretary positions through attrition.
Overall, Superintendent Henson noted that Fannin County’s Budget has increased $194,140 from last year. Having some “cushion” funds where the district put aside extra money to avoid bonding money at the beginning of the SPLOST program, the board approved moving $500,000 from the capital outlay fund to the general fund. Despite, the transfer, though, the budget still reflects a $1,173,759 deficit. If cuts from the state continue, Henson said that the board will have to look at making more tough choices down the road. Regardless, though, he said he felt good about the budget. In comparison, Fannin County’s financial picture is brighter than those of some of the surrounding county, various board members noted through out the meeting. Also, in the face of such monetary adversities, Fannin has a high graduation rate and has received accolades for its advanced placement programs.