The Clark County Board of Education Tuesday approved a $38 million working budget for fiscal year 2012-13 that includes a 22.2 percent contingency fund— a little more than $8 million.
The working budget is the last of a three-step budgeting process for school districts across Kentucky. Districts are required to present a draft budget to the board by Jan. 31, then a tentative budget must be approved and submitted to the Kentucky Department of Education by May 31. The final, or working, budget must be submitted to KDE in September.
There were some changes in the working budget from the tentative budget that was approved in May.
The working budget shows a beginning balance in the general fund of $7.4 million, up from the projected beginning balance in the tentative budget of $5.6 million, and $2.1 million higher than the beginning balance in last year’s budget.
Consultant Bob Wagoner said the district finished the year quite well, with expenditures coming in below expectations and revenue slightly above expectations, with part of the increase coming from money the district received last year from an omitted tax. But he cautioned the board to be mindful about how they used the funds.
“Keep in mind that a big part of that $2.1 million is that you got something, basically out of nowhere, when you got a substantial check from an omitted tax,” Wagoner said. “That was like a Christmas present that comes along every once in a while. We don’t anticipate that happening again this year, so keep in mind that those are one-time dollars and you have to be careful how you utilize that money going forward.”
Projected local revenue in the working budget is a little more than $14.4 million, 1.1 percent less than last year, while the district’s state SEEK fund allocation will also be lower.
“The bottom line in terms of funds available to the Clark County school district for the 2012-13 school year,” Wagoner said, “is that you’ve got slightly more than $2 million less than you had in 2011-12.”
Expenditures for the 2012-13 budget increased 2.1 percent — a little more than $647,000 — over last year’s expenditures. The largest portion of those increases were salaries and benefits, which comprise 85.1 percent of the budget.
Barring unforseen events, the district should finish the 2012-13 year with an ending balance of approximately $8 million, Wagoner said, which puts it in position to handle another state mid-year funding reduction like it has received the past two years.
“If you get the infamous letter from KDE in January or February that says the allocation for Clark County schools has been reduced by X-amount of dollars, because you have worked hard each step of the way to be structurally balanced, you are positioned well to handle that,” Wagoner said. “You are in good shape as far as not having to do what I call fire sales with your academic programs and your instructional programs that the district has in place that you deem to be valuable.”
Superintendent Elaine Farris praised the board for its work the past few years in “doing a whole lot more with less money.”
“Our board team has been very good stewards of the taxpayer’s money and in spite of federal and state funding cuts we’ve been able to develop a structurally sound budget,” Farris said. “We’ve been very diligent about how and what we spend our funds on and all decisions have been based on data and how we can improve instruction for our students.”
Contact Bob Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.