POWDERLY, Ky. (8/29/14) – The Muhlenberg County School System is facing a budget shortfall of about $5,000,000 that comes after the construction of several educational buildings and facilities.
Superintendent Randy McCarty has been going from school to school talking to employees about the shortfall and how it impacts their jobs. According to McCart, the news is not good but there are no plans to make staff cuts this year. There is hope that retirements and attrition will help soften the cutbacks when they occur.
"In 2005, Muhlenberg County Schools was listed as the fifth richest in the state. We had a $25,000,000 surplus in funds," said McCarty. "The district has spent $17,000,000 out of the general fund over the last five years. We built some buildings without using bond monies, and to make payroll we were dipping into our reserves. We hired too many staff. For example, Marshall County, which is a system comparable to our size, has 216 certified and classified staff. We are staffed 216 employees over that of Marshall County.
"With the overstaffing issue alone the budget would eventually fell into the red," said McCarty "The expenditures of monies from the reserve to build buildings simply hastened the date."
McCarty said the district must learn to live within its means.
"The district is looking at ways to cut costs and streamline how we operate on both the school and district levels. It doesn't matter what we did in the past or how we got into this shape. What does matter is that in the future, we must begin to operate within our budget," he said.
McCarty said the district was losing $1,300,000 in Tennessee Valley Authority funding and that there is a mandatory 2 percent pay raise next year along with a Kentucky Teacher Retirement System match up 0.75 percent bringing that match up to 3 percent. The pay raise is partially funded with $300,000 but the match takes away $200,000 of that match. As a result, the district will freeze all hiring and spending at the schools and it will not buy new buses. It will also cut back on field trips and professional development.
McCarty admits that these financial issues will impact his vision of getting students college and career ready due to its impact on staffing and purchase of new equipment, but he also believes that the school district has a lot of community support and has employed a fine staff that will work together to overcome these issues.
SurfKy News Reporter
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