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State funds for schools fall short

Liberty to get $92,000

POSTED: February 11, 2009 9:38 a.m.
In his annual School Construction Bond Package, which topped $318 million, Gov. Sonny Perdue awarded Liberty County $91,753 for construction projects.
LCSS officials said with numerous construction projects slated for the upcoming year, including a new middle school that costs more than $30 million alone, the funds won’t offset construction costs much.
“Unfortunately, capital outlay calculations do not take into account expected growth, but rather look at historical averages over the last few years,” Liberty County School System Assistant Superintendent Jason Rogers said. “Therefore, as it stands now, the state will not forward-fund us on the estimated growth in enrollment.”
An expected surge of soldiers on Fort Stewart during the next few years has school system administrators concerned construction funding will not be able to keep up with projected enrollment.
Bert Brantley, spokesman for Perdue, said the amount allotted to each school is based on a sort of credit system, where counties can save up entitlement for funds.
“It’s a complicated formula partially driven by growth, but more by the system’s plans,” he said.
Although Liberty County schools, which have received greater shares of the annual grant package in past years, were not anticipating a large sum from the state for construction, Rogers said they really need every cent they can get.
“In doing some research, it appears January state revenues could be lower than what was initially expected by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. Therefore, our cuts could be deeper than initially thought,” Rogers said.
“With this being said, we will not count on nor budget this money until we have official notification that we are going to actually receive it, as well as what projects it specifically pertains to.”
Although the state has told the Liberty County School System it is  getting money, no plans for using the funds can be drawn up.
“We did receive unofficial notice that this money was coming our way,” Rogers said. “However, we have not been notified as to what, or if any, strings will be attached to this money or if the state has designated the money for a specific project. Generally speaking, state capital outlay funds are earned for specific purposes and or projects.”
Rogers said school administrators won’t know more details until after the budget is finalized.
“It will not be official until the legislature passes the budget and he [Perdue] signs it. Normally, this would occur sometime around late March. However, it appears that the legislature is reserving five of their 40 days to meet in the month of June should a budget not be adopted at the end of day 35,” Rogers said. “If this happens, we could be getting official budget figures (for all areas and programs) as late as June — keeping in mind we are supposed to have our own budget adopted by July 1.”
 

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