"We're going to have to have additional revenue, we've got to take some [money] out of savings and we're going to have to make cuts," Hinesley said.
Finance Committee Chairwoman Kelley Dial said this month the board is looking for about $2 million for its budget. During the Monday, March 12 school board meeting, the board approved a resolution to support the mayor and city council increasing the Freeport ad valorem tax exemption from 20 percent to 40 percent beginning Jan. 1, 2013, approved by the city on Thursday.
"It's anticipated [the percentage] will go up each year until it reaches 100 percent ... that automatically means a minimum [cost] of about $205,000 more next year than it does this year. That is a $200,000 hit to us," Hinesley said.
Finance Director Richard Dyke provided a comparison of expenses between Cartersville and Bartow schools, due to their disproportionate sizes.
"$200,000 for [Cartersville] is about [$800,000] for Bartow," Dyke said.
In 2009, the Georgia Board of Education approved for Cartersville City Schools to be designated as a charter system -- something Assistant Superintendent Ken Clouse said differs from individual charter schools, which have to petition the local board of education and receive state approval to acquire charter status.
He explained individual charter schools receive state funds that are funneled through the local school board. The schools operate outside of their local board of education yet remain under the umbrella of the state department of education.
While Bartow Superintendent John Harper has expressed interest in acquiring charter status for the Bartow County Learning Center, the charter system status of Cartersville remains unique.
"We have been receiving between [$350,000] and $400,000 in charter system money that is in jeopardy and we don't know where it stands," Hinesley said.
He said this information was revealed during a recent meeting with local representatives and other charter system superintendents.
The House passed the constitutional charter amendment earlier in the session but the measure has stalled in the Senate with the Democrats refusing to budge on the issue. The measure would clarify state law after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in May that a commission creating and funding charter schools over the objection of local school districts was illegal.
"The good news is, at least in the House, they grandfathered in the charter systems now that are already charters [into the charter amendment], perhaps indicating they should honor [the funding] at least until the charter contract runs out, which is three more years," Hinesley said. "We haven't seen that kind of indication in the Senate, so that would be another [$350,000] to $450,000 loss of revenue on top of the [$205,000]."
Hinesley said similar to Bartow, Cartersville is anticipating a $300,000 to $400,000 decrease in tax revenues as well as an increase in the cost of transportation and in school employee insurance.
For example, in 2007 the city received $250,856 in state funds for transportation and spent $973,638 in transportation, with $33,439 going to field trips and extracurricular transportation.
In 2011, the system received $220,355 and spent $1.3 million in transportation, with $53,546 going to field trips and extracurricular transportation.
The Bartow County Board of Education last week voted on Harper's budget reduction plan, which included eliminating all non-competitive field trips for the 2012-2013 school year.
"You can imagine what the [expense] is going to be with the cost of gas," Hinesley said. "One of the things we're doing is looking at efficiencies in transportation, and we are evaluating everything we're doing.
"We're looking at it from a safety standpoint, we're looking at it from an efficiency standpoint, from making sure what we're currently doing is representative of what the tax payers would want us to do."
Hinesley said one of the greatest challenges the system is facing is the increase in the cost of employee health insurance handed down by The Georgia Department of Community Health's Georgia State Health Benefit Plan.
"The insurance to us is going to be between three-quarters of a million and $1 million in the next three years, and that doesn't count what we put in this year. We have been very fortunate here and we thought we had a plan that would get us through the next two years with minimal heartburn," Hinesley said. "That is not exactly going to plan out the way we thought it would.
"Our approach here is not a one year look, we like to look three years out so that whenever the school board does something [regarding the budget], [myself and Dyke] can honestly tell them the impact that [decision] is going to have in [the 2012-2013 school year], [the 2013-2014 school year], so they have some confidence this isn't a Band-Aid, but has some gauze to it."
Hinesley said while the two local school systems are disproportionate in size, the city is observing some of the reduction measures approved by the county.
"We're analyzing what the county did, they did a lot, and maybe there are some ideas there we can learn from," Hinesley said. "More importantly, we need to see what the legislature says."
Dyke said some of the recommendations and decisions won't be made until this summer. He said, for example, the city will wait to vote on its millage rate until the tax digest is received. Bartow's approved budget reduction plan calls for an increase of 1.5 mills.
"Until the digest comes in, until we end this year and know how much money is coming in and how much money we spent this year [the city will wait on proposals and decisions] ... but the cuts we'll have to decide soon because you're potentially affecting people in those programs," Dyke said.
Hinesley said, due to the smaller size of the Cartersville system, he generally contacts employees first before addressing the board with any proposals that could result in losing jobs. He was positive about teaching positions at Cartersville High School.
"Why we're very confident that no individual is going to be impacted is we're already seeing the potential of the schedule change saving us some money," Hinesley said.
Read The Daily Tribune News for updates on the Cartersville City School System budget.