Working 2011-12 budget OK’ed for Carroll schools

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By Sharon Graves

During a Carroll County Board of Education meeting that would be dedicated to crunching numbers and technological wizardry, Cartmell Elementary art teacher Felicia Clause received the Champions for Kids award.

Clause and her students worked with artist in residence Albert T. Nelson to create a time capsule for the newly renovated Cartmell that saw every student get involved in the sculpting process.

The time capsule is inside a stone pillar with a sundial capstone and sits outside the new front of the building.

Nelson’s work can be seen as the big baseball glove and ball at the Louisvile Slugger Museum, Home of the Innocents in Louisville and many other places throughout the state.  His website, nelstone.com shows the full scope of his work.

A good portion of the meeting was spent discussing the school district’s spending plans.

Chief financial officer Jon Conrad presented and the board passed a working budget of a little more than $20 million for fiscal year 2011-12 with a contingency fund of just above $1.4 million.

The balanced budget from the general fund is $15.8 million in revenue being offset with $15.8 million in expenses. The rest of the funding to make up the $20-plus million comes from five other of which is $2.2 million from a special revenue fund including federal and state grants, special education, and Title 1 and 2 funding and other state mandated programs. Food service adds another $1.2 million for free and reduced-priced lunches and paying students. The remaining three funds contribute nearly $808,000. 

On the expense side of the ledger, teacher’s salaries and benefits eat up the lion’s share of the budget at nearly 73 percent. Conrad said that anything below 80 percent conforms with state-recommended guidelines.  Teachers received scheduled step increases and a 1 percent raise this year, but departments were forced to reduce total spending by over $294,000.

What does all this mean?

According to the Kentucky Department of Education website and verified by Conrad, Carroll County will receive $4,027 per student this year. Because of the volatility of the economy, Conrad has budgeted 95 percent of the funds expected to be received because funds actually received could be less.

Where does the money come from?

Schools receive funding from many different sources, most of which can be traced to taxes.  Property, motor vehicle and utility taxes all find their way into the public school system and represent about one-third of the budgeted revenue. Another third of the funding comes from Support Education Excellence in Kentucky, known as SEEK funding, to the tune of $6.4 million, which comes from state coffers. The board carried forward $3 million from last year and received other state funding for the vocational school. North American Stainless pays $736,052 in lieu of paying property taxes, and the board recorded $4,000 of interest income. 

Conrad explained to the board that he budgets revenue very conservatively and expenditures on the high side, to assure the school will have enough money to cover its expenses. The contingency fund is another example of this, leaving a cushion for any unforeseen expenses representing 7.5 percent of the total budget. In an interview following the meeting, Conrad also said the board of education would need permission from the state to dip into that fund.

The American Recovery and Revitalization Act, better known as stimulus funds, pumped $2.12 million into the district in the last two years for the new early Head Start facility and an additional $512,000, which are no longer available. 

The formula for computing SEEK funding is somewhat complex, Conrad explained, but it is based on average daily attendance, which is one reason any public school system wants students in school. If they do not attend school, money is withheld. Too many students not attending will throw the entire budget process into chaos, not to mention a drop in learning which could result in failing grades and lower oversall test scores.

Conrad also said the disrict’s earnings from investments have also been much lower in the past few years because of the difficult economy.

Techno Wizards

High school principal John Leeper began a presentation on Challenged Based Learning, by telling the board, “you broke down a major barrier. All these kids have access to computers.”  All students have access to Apple Macbook computers daily and use them in class and for homework.

Teacher Dan Mahoney, one of several presenters, tried to show the board a short “claymation” film made by the students and after some difficulty, he was able to finally show the students vision of re-inventing the American dream. The film was an irreverent and often politically incorrect view and solution to 21st Century social problems.

Nancy Simpson, high school instructional coach, explained to the board that challenged-based learning will teach students to ask the big questions, then research for answers and finally be able to apply what has been learned.  “Learning can’t take place if it isn’t meaningful,” she said. “Challenged based learning is the cutting edge and learning is occurring.”


The first monthly attendance trophy was presented to Cartmell Elementary by Director of Pupil Personnel Larry Curell.