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AASB hosts District 8 meeting

By Staff
Kim West
FLORENCE – Nearly 100 area educators gathered at the Shoals Conference Center for a dinner and presentations on school finance and funding by the Alabama Association of School Boards at its biannual District 8 meeting Monday evening.
District 8 includes 18 municipal and county school systems in northwest Alabama, including Russellville City Schools, represented by its five-member school board and Superintendent-designate Don Cox, and Franklin County Schools, with Superintendent Gary Williams and a trio of board members in attendance.
Ken Roberts, AASB chief operating officer and director of research, gave a 45-minute presentation that highlighted the key figures in a school system's budget and annual and monthly financial statements.
"This lesson focuses less on the technical aspect and more on the ways you can use the financial information to make budget decisions," said Roberts during his presentation. "Your financial decisions should always support your educational (objectives)."
Roberts said school budgets project spending, while statements show actual money spent.
"What makes certain numbers important?" he said. "They should reflect the decisions you made and whether they reflect your budget. You're looking for things that jump off the page because you're not looking to micromanage.
"The key is which number is accurate – the budget number or the financial statement number?"
Sally Howell, AASB executive director, talked about the expected cuts to education spending for the 2009-10 school year.
"In the category that everything is relative, the good news is we're not in the Depression, but the bad news is we're in a recession that some have called the Great Recession because of the deepest (state budget) cuts in 40 years."
The state Legislature will begin working on next year's budget Feb. 3, and Howell urged educators to contact their local legislators about key issues supported by the AASB.
The association supports the temporary elimination of five days from the school year and suspending the adoption of new textbooks as ways to deal with budget cuts. However, the AASB opposed a uniform start date for the school year and advocates allowing local school systems to make that decision.
"(These legislators) are going to hear from different education leaders, but the most important ones they'll hear from are the ones that are sitting at these tables," said Howell as she addressed AASB members.