The Lawrence County School System should "break even" this year financially, Superintendent Jon Bret Smith said following a Tuesday night budget hearing with School Accountant Suzy Berryman. The school system is projected to end the fiscal 2020 year with $4.8 million in its general fund.

Last November, Berryman reported that the school system had started fiscal 2019 with the highest reserve it has seen in years. As of Nov. 8, 2018, the school system had about $6.925 million in reserve, an amount board members said was enough to operate county schools for 2.1 months without any additional revenue.

Berryman attributed the low gain to a four percent raise across the board for school faculty. She said teacher units were also higher than they were this time last year. 

"One of the reasons I like Mrs. Berryman so much, she usually underestimates our revenue and overestimates our expenditures," Smith said following the meeting. "We still have about one-and-a-half months operating reserve, and that's worse case scenario. We're not in the business of holding taxpayers' money. When our kids need things--we should have a good reserve--but we also need to meet our kids needs, spending as we go along."

An overview of the fiscal 2020 budget was presented to the school board prior to its regular meeting. Smith said the budget will be passed at the school board's regular October meeting. A second budget hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 9  a.m.

In other business, the board recognized three high school students for receiving an overall score of 30 or higher on their ACT. Walker Heflin from Hatton High School, Patti-Ann Smith of Lawrence County High School, and Marcus Carroll of East Lawrence High School were all awarded at the board meeting for their outstanding ACT scores. 

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