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Huntsville City Schools passes 2021 budget, meets state's savings requirements

Last year, the district's budget was $3 million under the standard.

Posted: Sep 14, 2020 9:42 PM
Updated: Sep 15, 2020 7:48 AM

The Huntsville City Schools Board of Education unanimously passed a school budget Monday night for 2021 that includes extra money for saving.

Superintendent Christie Finley calls it a success. That is in part because just a few years ago, Huntsville City Schools was facing a budget crisis after an accounting mistake left its reserve fund millions of dollars short from the state's requirement. 

Even through a pandemic, the district managed to come back from that crisis and produce a plan the school board was quick to approve. 

While coronavirus brought a lot of extra costs, most of it is covered by federal funds.

"We've made some cuts to the budgets over the last couple of years that have gotten us to the point to where we are now," Chief Financial Officer Dustin Daehn said. "Which is to spend our current resources to the point where we can achieve a 1.6-month fund balance in reserve."

The state's standard is a one-month reserve. Last year the district's budget was $3 million under the standard. Daehn said federal funding helped balance the budget.

"That helps defray or helps move expenses out of the general funds this year, but we still have to be careful with our expenditures," Daehn said.

More than $12 million will help offset coronavirus-related expenses. This includes PPE, sanitization efforts, and remote learning devices. Additionally, the district is able to hire hundreds of tutors.

"Right now we know what our funding and staffing levels are, next year, we don't know what the economy is going to do to funding," Daehn said. "So we try to keep that fund balance, or savings account so to speak as high as possible."

Finley said while budget cuts have been made, staffing has remained a top priority.

"We have come really far, we looked at really tightening our belt and what we did is we were able to cut the stuff and not the staff," Finley said.

Finley believes with this budget, students will be receiving the necessary resources to succeed, whether they are in the classroom or learning at home.

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