July 30-- The Toombs County Board of Education has approved the school system's fiscal year 2014 budget.
The budget estimates an increase in local tax revenue of $1.3 million while cutting the cost of instruction by more than a million dollars and reducing the system's reserve fund by more than $1.8 million to just over $50,000.
Overall, the general fund budget of $22.1 million is about $600,000 less than fiscal year 2013.
School Superintendent Dr. Kim Corley says the system is operating on a thin margin in part due to increased costs of health insurance and teacher retirement.
"Over the last couple of years health insurance has increased by over a half-million dollars and that's money we have to come up with at the local level. Also, our portion of teacher retirement went up as well. That eats into your fund equity year after year," she says.
The school board is waiting on the county's tax digest to decide what to do about county school tax rates on property owners.
Chief Tax Assessor Willie Haynes says the digest is about a month late this year due to property revaluation in the county which has generated about 600 appeals to his office. He's hopeful the digest will be finalized by the end of August.
The school system budget also contains more than $11 million in sales tax revenue to help pay for the first year of construction of the new Toombs County High School.
"We're very excited about that. Years and years of planning has gone into this project and we're hoping that bids will come in very reasonable and we'll be able to get started," Dr. Corley says.
A bid opening on the new school is Thursday, August 1. Dr. Corley hopes a contract can be awarded at the school board's meeting on August 8.