Amory School District Fails to Increase Ad Valorem Demand | New
AMORY – Prior to the bulk of the City of Amory budgeting process, the Amory School District held its annual budget hearing on June 29.
“This is the second year in a row that we haven’t had to. When we started trying to dig a [fund balance] hole, we noticed our local taxes and mileage rates weren’t even close to the state average and now we’re in a good spot. I am proud to say that we don’t have to place an additional burden on taxpayers, and that’s a good thing for all of us, ”said Amory School District Superintendent Ken Byars.
While the school district faced financial deficits years ago, its fund balances are steadily increasing.
The total projected revenue for fiscal year ’21 -’22 is $ 22,686,052 and the total projected expenses are $ 21,733,871. In previous years, the totals were closer to $ 16 million, but a significant increase from federal sources via COVID-19 relief funds led to the financial increase.
“People don’t realize that it typically takes $ 16 million a year to run a school system. People don’t realize it takes a lot, ”said school board member Jimmy Ann Ray.
District Business Director Leslie Maranto presented details of the combined budget, which includes a significant increase in federal funding due to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds provided by the CARES Act.
“It’s extremely different from past years because the federal government is so high with the ESSER. Typically, we are a publicly funded entity from afar. With this year with that ESSER money, it comes a lot closer because it’s one-time money, ”said Byars.
Federal funding sources totaled $ 8,679,352, which represented 39% of the total budget. This total included more than $ 6 million in ESSER funds.
ESSER funds are specifically allocated to help school districts prepare for, prevent or respond to the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including learning loss and safety measures.
A total of $ 64,000 of these funds is earmarked for a school nurse at Amory High School, meaning that every school in the Amory school district will have a nurse on staff.
In addition, $ 7,754 is specifically earmarked for digital learning costs for professional programs. According to Maranto, in addition to summer school programs, the district plans to use ESSER funding to fit toilets with touchless sinks in an effort to reduce contact with the surface.
Funding from local city sources amounts to $ 4,649,025, which represents 20 percent of total revenues. This includes $ 3,861,355 in ad valorem funds, which represents 18% of that total.
State funding amounted to $ 9,352,673, which represents 41% of the total budget. This figure includes $ 111,289 for teacher salary increases and related taxes and benefits allocated to the district.
The largest state-funded source – the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) – totaled $ 8,277,522.
“This is not the fully funded amount. Each year, they land a percentage at the top of the state in all districts. They’ve lost about 10.57 percent this year, which for us was a difference of about $ 978,000 that they didn’t fully fund us. That’s about $ 11,000 more than last year, but not as much as it could be, ”said Maranto.
Even though not fully funded, APRM funds still represent the largest percentage of district state revenue at 36%.
Maranto also noted that the district receives state funding for 14 nationally certified teachers employed by the district.
Byars explained that the district has worked hard to stay in its fund balance in recent years and that ESSER funds will allow the district to continue on this path.
“What we’ve been doing over the past few years… we’ve had fund balance issues for a long time and we’ve been able to manage about $ 500,000 to $ 700,000 to put back each year with our general money. ESSER has allowed us to take a bigger leap, ”said Byars.
On the expense side, the education category totaled $ 10,354,937, with the bulk going to salaries and benefits. Support services totaled $ 9,882,478 and non-educational services amounted to $ 979,573.
Last week’s budget hearing was associated with a special school board meeting, which included the endorsement of Chris Pace as the new Amory High School baseball head coach. He will replace Jonathan Cade Hoggard, who had held the position since 2019.
Hoggard’s resignation was also approved on the consent agenda, as he recently accepted a position as a new baseball coach at Oxford High School. School board members also approved the resignation of his wife, Caitlin, who was an intervention math teacher at Amory Middle School.
Additionally, Ronnie McCain has been approved as a paraprofessional for the Amory baseball team and Tyler Rosenthal has been approved as a defensive coordinator for the AHS football team.
Finally, board members discussed whether or not they would accept exchange students during the 2021-2022 school year, ultimately determining that it was still too risky.
“I still think there are a ton of unknowns with COVID. I recommend that we forgo another year, ”said Byars.
The board of directors voted unanimously not to accept exchange students for the coming year.