A “deep freeze” on all expenditures, with major exemptions for critical school-based spending for teachers and other staff, has been authorized by Superintendent Jerry D. Weast to offset revenue shortfalls expected this year and potential deficits in key budget areas.
As outlined in a directive from Chief Operating Officer Larry A. Bowers, the spending restrictions are designed to replicate previous cost-avoidance measures that netted considerable savings. Last year, for example, the school system saved more than $10 million to offset several deficits and ended the year with a $1.8 million surplus that was used to fund this year's budget.
“Recent reports from county officials make it clear that the economic situation is resulting in lower than anticipated tax receipts for the current fiscal year,” Mr. Bowers said in memorandum to executive staff outlining the restrictions. “These revenue shortfalls at the county level may worsen as additional economic data become available.”
The freeze affects -- with few exceptions -- most vacant positions, overtime spending, temporary part-time positions, contractual services, supplies and materials, equipment purchases, and other expenditures not specifically authorized. Specific positions not affected by the freeze include all school-based professional positions (teachers and administrative); bus operators and attendants; building service managers, work leaders, and workers; school-based secretarial positions; and security staff.
“Without specific authorization, positions that are not exempt from the freeze may not be filled, no equipment may be ordered, and no new commitments may be made for non-position salaries, contractual services or consultants,” Bowers said.
He noted that the expenditure restrictions do not apply to school-based expenditures except where specifically identified. Enterprise funds are not included in the restrictions. Restrictions on grant expenditures will depend on the terms of specific grants. Each office will be expected to make only absolutely necessary expenditures.
A copy of the freeze directive, dated October 27, 2003, is available online at the link below.