Furlough days not expected at TCSS

Published 10:00 am Saturday, June 20, 2020

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During its budgeting process, the Troup County School System has had to work through a world in mid-pandemic, making it difficult to project the cuts in state funding and what they would mean locally.

However, it appears state funding cuts won’t be quite as drastic as originally feared. Superintendent Brian Shumate had discussed possible furlough days for employees during the May school board meetings but now believes those won’t be needed.

“A month ago, I thought we were going to be looking at furlough days for employees,” Shumate said. “Right now, I think with this proposed budget we don’t need to do that. I think that’ll be good for staff morale. It will be good for student instruction because we were going to be losing professional learning days.”

The budget has changed immensely from the first time it was presented in April with $2 million trimmed from the 2019-2020 budget. 

In May, TCSS factored in a 14 percent cut in state funding, which equaled out to just under $9.5 million of the $67.7 million the system had received in 2019-2020. Since then, Shumate said the state has told school systems to determine cuts based on quality-based education funding, not all state funding, and to expect an 11 percent cut.

The QBE funding total for TCSS is $63.6 million, and an 11 percent decrease equals out to about $7 million. The difference in state cuts equals to $2.5 million more than TCSS can expect to receive from the state.

Once federal stimulus money from the CARES act is factored in, as well as some increase in local revenues, TCSS is presenting a budget that will operate at a $3.38 million budget deficit. The school system will use its reserve fund balance to cover the deficit. Tuesday night, TCSS had $21,004,228 in its reserve balance.

“The good news is we have a fund balance, and we were able to absorb it. We can’t do it forever,” Shumate said. “You can’t dip into your savings account $3.3 million every year, so we’ve got to hope that the state recovers and our funding levels get back. We’ll see where they are this time next year.”

In the proposed budget, TCSS expects to have $110,880,202 in a proposed revenue and $114,262,370 in expected expenses. That results in a $3,382,168 difference, which is the amount that will be covered by the use of fund balance/reserves. The board held a virtual board meeting on Thursday night, which started with a public hearing for the fiscal year 2021 budget. 

The next public hearing on the budget is June 25 at 5 p.m.

During Tuesday night’s work session, TCSS also discussed the eSPLOST collections for the month of April. The total eSPLOST collections for April were $876,953.92, down $200,090.30 from the previous year. Over the three years of the eSPLOST, only October 2019, March 2020 and April 2020 have brought in less revenue than that same month the previous year. March 2020 saw $100,421.65 collected less than in March 2019.

TCSS has collected $10,480,069.35 in eSPLOST during year three, with two months to go.