The Athens Independent School District Board of Trustees approved the proposed budget for the 2009-2010 school year Thursday night.

The total maintenance and operational budget for the coming year is $24,202,536. The fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30, with a tax rate being set to support the budget in late August and early September.

The 2009 proposed tax rate is $1.18647 — the same as last year.

In the expenditure category, instruction was the largest amount in the budget at $12,910,239. That amount covers teachers and staff salaries.

“This, of course, would be the largest item we have in the expenditures,” District Business Manager Randy Jones said. “We have some great teachers and they take up the majority of the budget.”

The second largest item is maintenance and operations at $3,001,486. This covers maintenance at all campuses, including the electric and phone bills, as well as the general operating cost of the schools.

The campus administration is the next largest item at $1,488,253. This covers principals and assistant principal salaries, as well as other administration at the schools including counselors and office staff.

District administration at the Student Support Center accounts for $1,269,184 of the budget. This includes the salaries of all the staff at the district administration level.

Transportation accounts for $1,136,606. This includes all buses and bus drivers, along with the transportation staff.

Other items in the expenditures list are Co/Ex Curricular $985,802; counseling, $776,090; debt services, 608,513; transfer of capital projects, $500,000; instruct leader, $399,892; data processing $367,106; library, $348,925; security, 141,970; and staff development, $51,640.

The school district serves a student population of 3,497, with a staff of 520. The high school has the largest number with 850 students, followed by the middle school, 781; Intermediate, 598; Bel Air, 544; South Athens, 534; and Annex, 190.

On the revenue side of things, the state will provide the most money to the district with $12,853,681 being added, followed by local taxes, $10,948,855; local/other, such as tax penalties, $150,000; and federal, $250,000.

“With the addition of new property in Athens and some construction, we know some of the tax rolls will change,” Jones told the board. “We are working very closely with Bill Jackson at the appraisal office and we should have another report for you sometime around August to let you know where we stand and just what kind of money we can expect for this year.”

The estimated tax roll at the present time is $1,171,464,820.

Approximately 62 percent is residential and 38 percent commercial and other.

In the public speaking portion of the board meeting, Larry West and Omega Dunnington made a plea for the re-opening of the R.C. Fisher campus in North Athens.

“I was glad to see at last month’s meeting the Rev. Kyle Henderson make the same plea I am here for today, the reopening of R.C. Fisher,” West said. “I want you to realize this is not a black thing. It is a community thing. This community needs this campus for our children.”

Dunnington, who served as principal at Fisher for 10 years, said he really thought the board would have discussed the issue again by now and come up with a plan to re-open the campus.

“I know the building has a few leaks and there are some things that need to be repaired, but there were a lot of students who got some great education while they were there. I personally know this. I was there for it.”

West said he has seen people asking for the re-opening and he had heard the board had just laughed it off behind close doors.

“I really hope and pray this is not the case,” West said. “I hope you will take what this community wants and reopen that school. Our students need this.”

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