The Russellville Independent School Board heard its annual audit report last week at its monthly meeting.
The presentation, from Lanny White of Carr, Riggs and Ingram CPAs, was a good one for the board.
“It was an excellent report on how we’re doing with our finances,” said Russellville schools superintendent Leon Smith. “He said that we’re doing better than most school districts with managing our accounts. It’s very nice clean report that we’re very proud of.”
It’s not been something the school district has done easily.
With deep cuts coming in recent years to Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding, many school districts have had to get rid of personnel. The Russellville district has, so far, managed to avoid that though, Smith said.
“In fact we even added an additional teacher at the high school when we moved the sixth grade from Stevenson to the middle school wing this year,” Smith said. “We have done a good job maintaining our certified instructional staff.”
Russellville has also kept the amount of money that teachers get for supplies at the same level of $125 per child.
“Many districts have reduced that to $100 per child or even less,” Smith said.”We’re trying to put all the dollars we can into our kids.”
It hasn’t been all good news though.
Teachers have only gotten one modest 1 percent raise in the past four years, Smith said.
“That’s been difficult for our staff,” he said. “But they know times are hard and they are working hard to compensate.”
If funding cuts continue, Russellville may not be as fortunate though.
With state cuts becoming the norm and the “fiscal cliff” threatening the federal budget, the district may have to make some hard choices in the near future.
“We’re maintaining right now, but we do realize that in the next year or two we will have to focus on addressing concerns,” Smith said. “Our expenditures will be exceeding our revenue this year, so we will have to make some adjustments, unless there are changes in SEEK funding.”
Also at last week’s meeting, Smith and the school board heard reports from the school principals about how they will be addressing the district’s low test scores, which were recently released.
“Each school gave reports about how we’re addressing those scores,” Smith said. “We now know what the playing field looks like and what standards are the priority. And we’re going to move forward in the most positive way now that we understand that. We had a really good dialog about that.”