SASD reviews preliminary 2019-2020 budget
Although school officials are still going over options that will possibly affect the tax levy and mill rate, Leah Hauser, director of business services for the Sparta Area School District recently provided the Policy, Finance and Facilities Committee with a review of the preliminary 2019-2020 budget, which was published in the Herald in last Thursday’s edition.
The board won’t actually approve a final budget and set the levy until October.
According to Hauser, the district’s total General Fund (Fund 10) revenue is $37,157,000, which she says is excellent news as it continues to grow every year.
Eighty-two percent of that $37 million is the revenue limit, which is comprised of state aid and the tax levy. Of that 82 percent, 73 percent is state aid and the remaining 27 percent is the tax levy.
Another big piece of the revenue comes from state and federal grants; some of which are categorical, meaning the district doesn’t have to apply for them such as transportation aid. There are other grants the district has to apply for that are more competitive.
The district does again qualify for high poverty aid, which is worth over $200,000.
“We used to qualify for this aid and the past two years we did not,” Hauser said. “I just received word last week that we qualified.”
Another change is the Department of Justice grants, which are the safety grants the district was awarded in 2018-19. The district also received a mental health grant for the 2019-20 school year.
The hardest numbers to predict are from grants and resale because they are based on actual revenue and the district doesn’t have all of the grant dollars known yet, which could change from year to year.
“Our fees, proceeds and other miscellaneous revenue are considered local sources because they’re at our control such as ticket entries and sales of property; things like that,” Hauser explained.
According to Hauser, this total budget is increasing over $1 million, which does correspond with what the district projected when some of the compensation model changes were made.
All of the contracts, teachers, classified staff, middle management and administrators’ salaries equate for $800,000 of that $1 million. Another $50,000 goes toward extra time and summer workers.
“I estimated high not knowing the additional staffing needs for our major transitions next summer with moving many of our buildings we know we’ll have some extra work and labor needed,” Hauser explained. “Also our summer school program continues to grow and I built in some extra money there in case that program continues to grow next year.”
Another $300,000 goes toward employee benefits, as there was an increase in health insurance as well as retirement benefits.
Building budgets and co-curriculars, which are managed by the school principals, increased $40,000 over last year’s spending. Academics and pupil services had an overall increase of $200,000; the major changes were an additional $20,000 to the WIN program and $120,000 will be transferred to Special Education (Fund 27) due to staffing and increased transportation costs.
The curriculum and instruction budget increased by $40,000 based on the needs identified in the teaching and learning long-range plans. The long-range technology budget is increasing $70,000 based on the long-range plan.
Operations and finance had an increase of $770,000, however, the transfer to Fund 26 decreased from $150,000 last year to $125,000. The buildings and ground operational budget is decreasing $50,000.
“Based on our long-range capital projects plan, we’re planning to spend $260,000 more this year than last year,” Hauser said. “A lot of these projects are routine maintenance versus doing new things. Some of these projects are things you’ve already approved but the timing of when contractors could get in didn’t mesh with our calendar year.”
An eight percent increase is always budgeted for utilities so the district is ready for unexpected variances and utility bills.
The superintendent and board of education budget saw a decrease of $30,000, which is attributable to not having any referendums this year.
“Referendums are costly to run between the surveys, the publishing and the canvassing,” Hauser explained.
At the annual meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 27 at 7 p.m., the public will see the mill rate number for the first time. Again, that number is not finalized until October.
The public can access detailed copies of the budget in the district’s Business Services Office, which is located in the Administrative & Educational Center on E. Franklin St. See Thursday’s edition of the Herald for information on the tax levy and mill rate.