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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, 2007
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Hartselle schools close to having 2-month reserve

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — The Hartselle City School system is "very close" to meeting the state's recommendation of a two-month operating reserve, custodian of funds Sarita Tapscott said.

"We're required by law to have one month, but we're very close to getting two," she said.

Tapscott said it costs about $1.8 million per month to operate the school system.

The $28.2 million budget the board passed at Monday's meeting is the largest in the system's history.

It predicts an ending balance of $4.7 million on Sept. 30,
2008.

Tapscott explained that some of that money is allocated for projects that may not be completed at the end of the next fiscal year.

"This is why we don't fully have two months of operating money in reserve," she said.

Shifting costs

The system is closer than when William Michael Reed became superintendent, in part, because Hartselle has trimmed its local teacher units from 21 to 17.04 in three years.

Local units are teachers the board employs in addition to what the state provides.

The system uses local revenue, which is money the board can use at its discretion, to pay salaries and benefits for local teachers.

The local units will cost Hartselle about $1.4 million next year.

All local teaching units, including the superintendent, will receive a state-mandated 7 percent pay raise.

These raises will cost Hartselle about $150,000, according to board Chairman Dr. Andy Dukes.

Tapscott said Hartselle saved money this year by classifying its highest-paid teachers as state units.

School systems earn state units based on average daily membership of students. The state, however, does not say whether teachers are state or local units.

A teacher with 20 years of experience and a master's degree, for example, will make more money than a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree.

Hartselle, like most school systems in the state, usually calls the first-year teacher a local unit.

"We did a lot of moving around," Tapscott said.

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