Madison County Schools will gladly accept the much-needed stimulus money coming their way, though their bankroll is less than expected.
The school system will receive $985,156 worth of stimulus — or American Recover and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) — money, but it’s only a one-year deal.
“This is a one-year band-aid for the economic woes,” superintendent Mitch McGhee said.
School leaders originally thought they’d collect two years worth of stimulus funds, so Madison County Schools will receive only half of what it anticipated.
“We weren’t just led to believe, we were told that this was only going to be half the money … It’s not that we misunderstood them,” McGhee said.
Still, the system will put the $985,000 to good use.
Initial spending cuts at each of the system’s seven campuses totaled $752,000. But the application of ARRA funds will reduce that to $408,000.
Some of the stimulus money is restricted to special education use while another portion must go toward Title I programs. But much of the money will save several clerical and classified positions for next school year.
Schools also avoided the worrisome professional learning cuts originally proposed in the school system’s cost-reduction plan with the addition of stimulus money.
“We’re very thankful,” McGhee said. “It would be a lot better if it was the two-year plan that they originally told us. But we’re thankful. We think it’s going to save us some jobs and help out the students.”
Madison County already received a portion of the $985,000 in April and will receive the other half in October.
The schools must spend the funds by 2011, but that shouldn’t be a problem.
“We’re going to spend a vast majority of these funds this next year,” McGhee said.
The financial outlook after the ARRA funding is exhausted is uncertain, however.
“We do not know what next year’s budget is going to hold,” McGhee said.
McGhee doesn’t expect the economic troubles of schools to improve by next year — noting a state revenue slump of 20 percent in April — so the school system remains under a hiring freeze.
In a related economic matter, the school system was forced to lay off two teachers for the 2009-2010 due to a lack of state funding.
Madison County was faced with 15 potential layoffs a few months ago, but gradually reduced that number by sliding existing teachers into the positions of those who resigned or retired.
Was checking my property taxes on line. When doing this noticed parcels where no property tax paid for 2 or 3 yrs. When does county auction these off or liens on them ? Anyone with idea of how much back property taxes not paid ? Collecting taxes would help schools and other county needs.