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Calhoun County BOE budget approved for 2021-22

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The Calhoun County Board of Education this week unanimously approved a $78.4 million budget for 2021-22.

Board figures from Tuesday indicate the system commences the school year with $19,739,982, which when added to expected tax revenue and other funding sources, amounting to $76,669,795, gives a total of $96,409,777.

Expenditures are expected to be $78,445,158, leaving a balance of $17,964,619 going into the following year.

Decreased enrollment translates into a smaller amount of income from state sources.

“Enrollment is our major funding mechanism,” said John Godwin, chief financial officer, in a phone conversation after the meeting. “There are other contributing factors, but the pandemic is one reason which caused our enrollment to be down.”

Calhoun County schools resumed in-person learning this week, but recently the system switched to virtual learning for a couple of weeks due to the rise in cases of the COVID-19 virus.

Godwin listed several other reasons why school systems enrollment fluctuates, such as children moving away from aging neighborhoods and the rise and fall of the economies in various communities and towns.

Local revenues, though, are healthy, and contribute a total of $34,311,000, which when added to several one-time and other temporary sources of funds will help the system for the next year and, in some cases, the next three years.

“Revenues were budgeted conservatively, though,” Godwin said.

Another issue linked to lower enrollment is the reduced income from the sale of school lunches. Salaries for lunchroom personnel still must be paid without the income from students, who cannot buy school lunches while at home.

As with every school system, maintenance of buildings is a major expense. Roofs are being replaced at Ohatchee and Wellborn schools at a cost of $2,272,500.

 At Alexandria High School, which at this time has two gymnasiums, workers will renovate the newer gymnasium and add an exercise facility at a cost of $535,000. A new gymnasium/ag shop will replace the older gym, which will be demolished. The cost of the new gym is to be $6,997,258. 

Ohatchee High School will get a gym expansion at a cost of $1,308,000.

Attempts to reach the Superintendent Donald Turner were unsuccessful.