Few changes needed to budget

New legislation’s impact studied

Minimal changes have occurred in the Independent School District 834 final 2012-13 budget, according to district officials.

The final budget was presented to the board Thursday by Assistant Superintendent of Business and Administrative Services Ray Queener. The final budget ensures that programs are in line with the federal expenditures and helps the district catch any significant changes, he added.

Overall there were very minimal changes to the final budget this year, Queener said.
The difference occurred in the federal aid and grants given to the district with the results coming in less than expected. Federal aid was slated at $2.9 million, and the revised amount now is at $2.8 million. Meanwhile, grants were projected at $567,773 and are now at $573,098.

Changes in the general fund occurred in the regular and vocational instruction and special education balances. Regular and vocational instruction  decreased by $286,425 due to lower insurance costs for employees while special education increased by $521,139.

“The special education line has increased, mainly due to things beyond our control concerning the care that our students need,” Queener said.

No changes were made in the food service fund and the recommended budget stands at $3.9 million. While Queener recommended that the community education fund stand at $4 million

“There have been some small changes to the community education revised budget in regards to federal aid on the expenditure side,” he said.

The unassigned fund balance, which is equivalent to the savings account of the district, stands at $9.36 million, 10 percent of the total expenditures that the district incurs annually.

“So, what do you say to someone who asks why we need a levy if we have $9 million dollars in our savings,” asked board member George Hoeppner.

“With the unfunded mandates from the state, we are dealing with a $5 million deficit in 12-13,” Queener answered. “We’ll roll the remaining balance over to 14-15 and then take the fund balance down to five percent. When we look out to 14-15, out of the fund balance total we couldn’t keep going on as we already are. That’s why we had to ask for the levy.”

“It’s also best practice to keep a fund balance, like in any business,” added Superintendent Corey Lunn. “We actually had a local group come in and advise us
awhile back that it would be best to have the fund balance higher than 10 percent.”

Regarding the levy and recent education bill, Lunn said the legislation came out as the district had anticipated.

“Some things are clear while others are still very murky and we’re still working on figuring that out. We did a pretty good job coming up with the assumptions of what would happen with the education bill,” he said.

Lunn said kindergarten funding came through as expected, and there was a small increase in the education formula. Both things were calculated into the levy plan. He added that there’s a change in funding rules when it comes to per-pupil funding that he and Queener are trying to understand.

With passage of all-day kindergarten in the legislature, Lunn said the total levy request stands at $10.1 million.

The school board is expected to reconfirm a resolution of intent to hold a referendum and the levy amount they will seek at its June 13 meeting.