Calhoun County Schools Bus.JPG

A Calhoun County Schools bus.

Calhoun County’s school board on Friday approved a budget for the next fiscal year that projects a nearly $900,000 deficit, but the board’s chief accountant said she’s confident next year’s financial statements won’t show such.

“You want a balanced budget, but I’m not upset by this,” chief schools financial officer Tina Parris said Friday, after the Calhoun County Board of Education’s meeting adjourned.

The budget approved estimates that the system’s general fund will receive $69 million in tax revenues in the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. The system will spend $68.1 million out of its general fund, meanwhile, on school operations.

The slight surplus between those two accounts will go toward other expenses, Parris said. Her current projections show that the system will end the next fiscal year having withdrawn $871,060 from its reserves — but that likely won’t happen.

At the start of the 2016 fiscal year, Parris projected a $3.9 million deficit, but the system finished the year with a $46,000 surplus, she said. Fiscal 2015 ended with a $1 million surplus, when she’d estimated the system would need to spend $2.8 million from its reserves.

“That’s the way it normally comes out,” she said.

Most of the general fund money the system will spend next year — nearly $52 million — will go toward instruction, according to a presentation that Parris gave Thursday night.

Board members also approved a raise for financial bookkeepers and secretaries working in the central office. Parris said the raises applied to 10 positions and would cost the system approximately $60,000.

Employees working in those positions had not received a raise since 2000, Parris said.

Separate from day-to-day operations, the system will continue to spend about $38 million on capital projects, such as construction of a new Alexandria Middle School.

The board sought a $55 million loan last year to finance those projects, as well as to buy more than 30 new buses.

Other improvements on the capital projects list include:

— A $9.8 million renovation of Saks High School.

— A $13.2 million renovation of Weaver High School.

— A $6.8 million renovation of Walter Wellborn High School.

Board members present Friday had few questions before voting to pass the budget Parris prepared.

Dale Harbin, acting as the board’s chairman in the absence of David Gilmore, thanked her for the work.

After the meeting, board members Tobi Burt and Debbie Hess said they thought the budget a sound one.

“As long as we’re taking care of our people and paying our bills,” Burt said he was satisfied.

Staff writer Zach Tyler: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @ZTyler_Star.