School leaders in Sullivan County breakdown cash-flow before drafting budget

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - School leaders in Sullivan County are doing the math before a final budget is shown to County Commissioners.

School Board members met Saturday to discuss how much money the school system is making and why they're coming up short.

News 5 caught up with school officials to breakdown the basics of next year's budget.

Money is running short in Sullivan County, it has a big school system with an even bigger budget for the 2013-2014 school year.

"We know right now that we're looking at about a $3.2 million shortfall," said Department of Education Business Manager Leslie Bonner.

So before any draft of a budget is presented to County Commissioners, School Board members met Saturday discussing ways to balance the budget as well as, the school system's cash flow.

"We've had a lot of questions from the community, 'How in the world do we have fewer dollars?'" said Director of Schools Jubal Yennie.

The answer to that question relies on the three main sources of income. We learned it breaks down to property tax, sales tax, and state money given based on student attendance and enrollment.

"We have been seeing a decline in our enrollment numbers over multiple years and therefore we have to be responsive to that, because it does impact our revenues," added Bonner.

How much you may be asking? Bonner says the dwindling number of students means a hit by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

For a cash-strapped school system major changes are a possibility and Yennie says they're still figuring out that formula, "You can cut around the edges, 20% budget on text books and contractor services, things like that. When you're looking at millions of dollars, you really have to get to people. So really, what we're looking at is staff ratios."

The final decision will be left up to the School Board and more work sessions, like this one, are on the horizon.

We also learned one aspect school officials are looking at before making budget decisions for the 2013-2014 school year is the impact of recent annexation, in the Colonial Heights area, will have on both the Sullivan County and Kingsport City School Systems.

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