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Study: District spends money ‘prudently’

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

 The Trimble Banner

In a complicated comparison that included the past five fiscal years (2004-05 to 2008-09) and the six surrounding counties (Oldham, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Henry), the Trimble County Board of Education found that it has been managing the district’s money well. “You do a very good job with the resources you have available to you,” Bob Waggoner of School Management Associates Inc. told the board during its Dec. 18 meeting. Waggoner said the district spends 48.7 percent of its total funds in the classroom, just below the state average and at the high end of the amounts spent in the other districts. The district does this while offering teachers competitve salaries. “[You’re] keeping your eye on the ball, which is what is going on in the classroom,” he told the group. “You’ve got to have teachers that are engaged; there’s no doubt about that,” board member Tom Cook said. In the six counties, Trimble’s average annual salary for certified staff was $50,123 in 2008-09; the range for the other counties was $48,252 in Gallatin and $52.318 in Owen. The state average is $51,605. Trimble ranked fourth of the six counties in per-pupil spending. At $8,784 in 2008-09, Trimble bested Oldham ($8,651) and Henry ($8,757), but lagged behind Carroll ($12,276) and Owen ($11,254). The state average was $9,743. In total revenue, Trimble also ranked toward the bottom. Funding per pupil from state, federal and local sources was $8,867 in 2008-09, below the state average ($9,899) and below all but Oldham ($8,681). Carroll ranked at the top at $10,700. Contributing factors for the revenue comparison, Waggoner said, included differences in county building fund tax rates, differences in the number of at-risk or exceptional children enrolled and differences in federal grants received. One district receives revenue from utility taxes, he said. Trimble does not. In terms of spending versus revenue, he again complimented the board. “If something does what you want it to, you ask can we afford to keep doing it? ... I’d say you’re very prudent. ... At least, from my perspective.”