|Parameters reviewed for 2011-12 school budget|
|Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt|
Limits and directions are included in the 2011-12 budget parameters being considered by the Re-1J Board of Education.
These parameters were discussed at the April 19 board meeting and will return to the May 3 agenda.
Parameters create the fences that the board wants to build around the budget process. They communicate with Supt. Bret Miles and Director of Budget and Finance Sharon Thompson about the limits they expect and other directions.
When Miles brings the budget back to the board as a final product, he will communicate how it meets the parameters.
Priorities from the district’s budget and facilities committee (which represents staff, parents and local business community members) were shared with the board for their budget parameter discussion last week.
In general, the board desires to look for efficiency in funding and to make cuts farthest from the classroom when possible.
Board members expressed agreement with the recommendation of the budget and facilities committee for use of the fund balance. The parameter will cite the use of one-third of available funds above the $1.2 million reserves.
Some flexibility will be used in capital project directives considering construction may be done in the future with the money from the mill levy override.
Dan Kafka pointed out the board recognizes capital projects are important, but in tough economic times they understand and are willing to be flexible with capital projects in the 2011-12 budget.
Supt. Miles said he always wants a pupil count target in the parameters. Better information will be available at the May 3 meeting, but as of April 15, there were 552 students enrolled.
Miles said a good pupil number to target in the budget is 566 for the fall. This represents a decline of 12 students with averaging.
Kafka expressed steps should be taken to fund staff benefits as a priority. He noted research should be taken to improve the salary schedule, and they should begin the process by prioritizing the components for salary schedule improvements.
The board also concurred with the philosophy of using natural staff attrition as the first option for a reduction in staff.
Board members said they’ve been pleased this year with the amount and quality of information they receive with regard to the budget.
Quarterly financial status shared
Supt. Miles noted the potential of another rescission will not happen this year, meaning projected revenue from the state is not changing. He told the board they can expect the district will operate within the appropriated revenue and expenses this year.
Total percentage of revenue collected at this point in time is tracking a little behind the third quarter revenue from a year ago, said Supt. Miles in his quarterly financial report to the board.
In the end, however, he expects to be about on budget.
Special education, athletics and interest will not reach 100 percent of the projected revenue, but athletics will be adjusted with less in expenditures to make it balance, said Miles.
State and federal grants are coming in slower than usual, but a majority of the revenue is expected.
Overall, there are no surprises with expenditures either, said Miles. One year ago, the district had 25 percent of its budget remaining, and right now it has 27 percent.
The remaining available balance more than covers what Miles said they would expect to see in the remaining three months of the 2010-11 year.
Cash in the general fund looks good with a balance of nearly $1.5 million, added Miles. With increasing local revenue this time of year and lower state payments, the district may expect to see the cash dip to a low point for the year of $1.4 million.
Funds requested for Lobato vs State
Lobato vs. the State of Colorado is the case deliberating whether the state’s school finance system is adequately funded.
Earlier, the Holyoke School Board made a contribution of the requested $1 per student to help finance the adequacy case. The request for a similar contribution has come again, in preparation for the case going to the State Supreme Court in August.
In general, board members expressed this case has the potential to impact state funding and is worth taking a proactive approach.
An official vote on the contribution is set for the May 3 board meeting.