The Hoover school board has set two public hearings for the school system’s proposed budget for fiscal 2017, which begins Oct. 1.
The first hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. at the Hoover Municipal Center at 100 Municipal Lane, while the second hearing will be Thursday, Sept. 8, at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the Farr Administration Building at 2810 Metropolitan Way.
Typically, the school system’s chief school financial officer presents highlights of the budget and answers questions from the public.
The school system’s budget has been the topic of much discussion in recent years as the school board has approved deficit budgets and pulled money from their overall fund balance to support operations.
The school system’s overall deficit was $9.6 million in 2012, $10.2 million in 2013, $7.9 million in 2014 and $1.4 million in 2015, records show. However, in fiscal 2015, about $2.6 million in expenditures for buses and capital projects were delayed and rolled into fiscal 2016.
The budget approved for fiscal 2016 a year ago expected a $10.4 million deficit. However, that could be erased with $11 million coming from the sale of the former Berry High School campus to the Vestavia Hills Board of Education, if that sale is completed within the next month.
School officials a year ago expected to end fiscal 2016 with almost $73 million in their overall fund balance, which is enough to cover about 5.6 months’ worth of expenses, Superintendent Kathy Murphy has said. More recent estimates have put that number closer to $80 million.
The school system’s general fund balance is higher than any other school district in the state, but school officials say tough times are coming because personnel costs continue to increase and debt payments will rise by $4.4 million a year in fiscal 2018 and another $8.6 million a year in 2026. Plus, additional school facilities could be needed to handle enrollment growth.