Madison Co. Schools look toward modest spending year - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Madison Co. Schools look toward modest spending year

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Chief Financial Officer Karen O'Bannon holds a copy of the new $200 million spending plan. (Source: WAFF) Chief Financial Officer Karen O'Bannon holds a copy of the new $200 million spending plan. (Source: WAFF)
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MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

Madison County's school system now has a lean and tightly-stretched new plan to pay for education in the county.

Thursday night, the county school board approved a budget for next year, while admitting it means another year of limited spending.

Thanks to federal BRAC funding, the county has millions of dollars to spend on capital improvement projects, including a new high school - but for things like books, teacher pay, and day-to-day operations expenses, Madison County Schools are strapped.

Under this budget, the school system manages to live modestly within its very modest means.

"We're maintaining. We're just not a real prosperous district," said Superintendent David Copeland.

Madison County school leaders rolled out the district's new $200 million 2015 spending plan with plenty of concern that it ought to be bigger.

Chief Financial Officer Karen O'Bannon repeatedly talked about her office's work to stretch funds as much as possible.

The school board approved the budget but wished for better funding on a number of priorities, such as vocational technology courses and for textbooks.

"The real issue as to why we have this lean budget is because of our revenue shortfalls, both state and local," said O'Bannon.

Superintendent-elect Matt Massey will inherit this budget, and said the scrimping has been a success thus far.

"What really concerns me is in a couple years, how are we going to manage the budget as it grows, as our costs increase," Massey said.

O'Bannon echoed a theme Massey has hit repeatedly, the idea that with funding from the state running below what it was in 2008, a big part of the county's challenge is that it hasn't had any new sources of money in decades.

"We wouldn't be in the tall cotton, so to speak, but we'd be much better off," Copeland said. "We're not dropping. We've maintained. We're going to have a balanced budget," said Copeland.

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