The Crossett School Board approved an approximately $7.3 million operating budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The majority of the $7,390,622.04 operating fund budget was dedicated to teacher salaries, which would draw $6,228,687.21 throughout the course of the year.

Crossett School District Business Manager Norman Hill said the district was able to cut the cost of certified salaries this year, in some instances by declining to replace positions that were vacated and in other instances by moving certified positions into areas funded by federal dollars. Last year, the district paid $6,353,842.11 in teacher salaries.

“We are trying to maximize our budget,” Hill said.

In the operating fund, the district saw a decrease in the tax assessment it received because of the burning and subsequent demolition of the Georgia Pacific Plywood Mill in 2017, as well as a decrease in state funding because of a loss of students last year, he said.

Funding based on students may change again next year as the current district student population is 1,663, up from 1,636 at this time last year.

The district plans to pay $1,560,268.76 in debt service over the coming year.

The budget also has the district starting the year with 340,043.45 in capital outlay funds and ending with $358,071.39.

“We hit the capital outlay pretty hard to get the new high school technology, and (used the funds as well for) transportation,” Hill said. “I would like over the next few years to grow that (fund) back to $500,000. Last year, with the new building coming on, you felt like you wanted to start that out with the best technology.”

The school board voted 3-0 to accept the budget as presented. Board members Eddie Goodman, Keith Medders and Keith Carter all voted for it.

Members Katie Jordan and Robert Cornelius were not present.

In other news, Superintendent Gary Williams informed the board that the school district has received a nutritional grant that will be paired with the 21st century after-school program to provide snacks for the students.

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