On Monday morning, you’ll see 790 school buses on their way to 90 different schools where more than 59,000 students are ready for the first day of class for the 2015-2016 school year.
Mobile County Public Schools Superintendent Martha Peek sat down with WKRG to talk about how much money it takes to run the entire school system each year.
“We’re a big operation,” Peek said. “We have over 9 million square feet under roof. “Our yearly operating budget this past year was $691 million.”
A big chunk of money go to payroll for 7,000+ employees. That makes the school system a larger employer than Austal, which boasts about 4,000 workers.
“What people often don’t realize is that every month we have a big impact on the economy of this area. We have a $33 million payroll every month,” Peek said that money goes directly into the local economy since this is where their employees live and shop.
She says you also have to factor in a large maintenance bill. With 90 schools and more than 9 million square feet of buildings, she says a large portion of their budget goes to running the facilities.
“Our bus fleet is also large than many metropolitan bus fleets,” Peek ads.
She says you might not realize it, but MCPSS also has the largest catering service in the area. “We serve 65,000 meals a day, and you might say ‘wait a minute. you only have 59,000 students.’ But, we serve breakfast lunch and now dinner,” Peek says about their new expansion to after-school athletic events.
Even though the $691 million budget seems like plenty of money when you look at it up front, she says it doesn’t cover everything.
“We get no funding for technology. No funding for library enhancement, and no funding professional development for the staff,” Peek jokes that she could always use double the amount they’re given, but for now it’s enough for another school year to run smoothly.