Jefferson: State cuts hurt at home

Published 9:13 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2011

By Robert Hudson

The Selma Times-Journal

With budgets starting to be finalized, the Selma City School system is finding itself in a tight financial situation.

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It’s a situation superintendent Donald Jefferson described at Tuesday’s school board meeting as “trying to fit a size 13 foot into a 10 ½ shoe.”

“This is the third year in a row that we’ve faced proration, and for my system it’s cost us — if you look at unfunded mandates as well as the actual dollars — about $9.5 million in the last three years,” Jefferson said.

“We’re in the Black Belt, and it’s a struggle every day,” he added. “We can’t afford to lose that kind of revenue and still be able to provide a quality education for our students.”

Jefferson said the situation is tight, but the school system still has funds to operate on, and not a lot of school systems around the state are as financially sound.

Jefferson said Selma City Schools lost about six teacher units system wide.

The school system receives about $3.9 million through OCE (Other Current Expense), which is provided by the state, Jefferson said.

That money is used to pay for utilities as well as support personnel such as secretaries, bookkeepers, custodians and bus drivers.

“We’ve got 74 people that we pay out of Other Current Expense and that eats up almost $3 million,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson said the other $1 million also goes toward personnel, leaving nothing to go toward utilities.

The school system then has to draw from its general funds to pay for utilities.

It’s one of the reasons the board listened to presentations at the recent board meeting from Energy Education and Trane Energy Solutions to try and find ways to save energy and, ultimately, money.