Board approves FY 2012 budget
After a 10-minute public hearing, the Monday (Aug. 8, 2011) approved the 2011-12 budget on a unanimous vote.
The budget sets the general fund legal maximum spending of just over $29.1 million, more than $813,000 less than the actual 2010-11 budget and below the $30.9 million of 2008-09.
State aid for students was cut dramatically for the 2011-12 school year -- $157 per student. With the cut and additional costs for utilities and other unavoidable fixed expenses, the district was looking at a budget gap of $1.4 million.
To partially offset some cuts, the Board earlier this spring directed staff to design a budget that increased the local option budget to partially offset some losses in state aid. While the local option budget percentage decreases slightly to 26.7 percent for the 2011-12 year from 26.85 percent in FY2011, the mill levy to support the LOB increases by 1.88 mills.
A decrease in the amount the state provides to equalize the local option budget resulted in the increase in local property taxes. Historically, the state has paid a portion of the local option budget for low-wealth districts, a concept known as equalization. Hutchinson is known as a low-wealth district. For FY 2012, the state is reducing that assistance, leading to higher local property taxes.
USD 308 will get an additional $63,706 from the local option budget in FY2012.
The budget also reduces the district’s carryover funds – what businesses would consider operating capital and emergency reserve funds – by $380,000. The carryover funds are used during the school year to fund federal programs for which money isn’t received until October and as a hedge against late payments by the state to the district. In the past two years, the state has been late in making its school district payments more often than it has been on time. Currently, USD 308 has just under three months of cash operations in reserve.
Carryover funds are one-time money that will need to be replenished in a future budget.
Overall, the estimated tax rate for 2011-12 will be 57.46 mills or 4 mills higher than in 2010-11. Of the 4-mill increase, 2.1 mills resulted from the district’s $78.8 million bond issue voters approved in 2006.
The district spends 65 percent of its funds on direct instruction and instructional support. Only 7 percent is spent on administration.
The Board also received an update from staff at Lincoln Elementary School. Lincoln had 10 staff members on hand with Principal Pam Bevan to give the Board an overview of work done this summer in anticipation of the new school year.
Teacher Kristy Farley thanked the Board and other district staff for its support of the work at Lincoln. Instructional coach Deanne Nelson said the teachers had met four times in the summer to work on plans for 2011-12.
Dr. Bevan said the group had looked at best practices to improve math and reading scores for the students, to build positive behavior expectations and to reach out to the parents and the Lincoln neighborhood.
Also during Monday’s meeting, the Board heard a report on Adequate Yearly Progress, a report that will be aired on a statewide basis in front of the Kansas State Board of Education on Tuesday.