Clay Community Schools will see the largest decrease in cash balance reserves in 14 years.
"We're back to the level we were at in 1991-92. We've had to decrease the 2002 appropriations by $1.3 million for 2003 and we'll not have any appropriations from 2003 to cut for the next year. The 2003 budget leaves no flexibility," Randy Burns, director of business affairs, said.
Burns noted four areas of concern:
- First, large items have been added in the middle of the year when the budget was already in place.
- Energy costs, with increasing rates and adding air conditioning at the elementaries are the second concern.
- Third is insurance, including health, workman's compensation, liability, etc.
- The fourth concern is the unknown state of Indiana's budget with delayed payments and unexpected measures the state will take.
"The school corporation can't continue to operate on a cash balance. Once it's spent, it's gone. But it's not as dire as it looks. It can be salvaged if the board closely evaluates expenditures," Thomas Rohr, superintendent, said.
He said the school board could take three measures to secure the budget: Maximize revenue, increase the tax levy and using a fine tooth comb on other things in the budget.
Over $300,000 was spent on extra curricular activities. Rohr said local taxpayers may have to take up some of that burden. The average cost of a family insurance plan for a Clay Community Schools employee is $11,000, with the corporation paying for a portion of the premium. Rohr added that the board may have to look at changing the benefit structure.
Salaries make up almost 72 percent of the general fund budget and benefits are a little over 20 percent, making up 92.05 percent of the budget. State support makes up over 50 percent of the anticipated revenue for the school corporation. Just two years ago, it received over $1 million. This year, it got just over $82,600. Revenue increased by only .41 percent in 2002, while expenditures were up by 3.96 percent.
Based on zero percent increase in state funding, zero percent raise for all staff, and not changes in staffing or programs in 2003-04, estimated revenues are $28,560,000 with expenditures anticipated at $27,934,000, leaving only a $625,00 cash reserve. In years past, Clay Community Schools have had an approximate $3 million in cash reserves.
Jon Hull, school board president, asked Burns and Rohr to make recommendations and to schedule a work session for the board to implement the budget.
"The school corporation has been fortunate over the last couple of years. Now it's going by the wayside and we're in the same boat as a lot of other school corporations throughout the state. I don't think we can sit back and wait. We need to have a working session as soon as possible to develop options and alternatives to avoid layoffs because that will have a direct impact on the students-the most important part of our school corporation," Steve Grisgsby, board member, said.
He suggested not replacing retirees may be an option.
Rohr said seven certified and one classified staff have said they will retire after this year. He suggested eliminating some of the smaller classes at the secondary level.
Joe Thomas, board member, asked how many classrooms have 15 or less students and how many have less than 10.
Rohr didn't have an exact number, but said he would know just before spring break how many students have signed up for each particular class and suggested that would be the ideal time to schedule the work session.
Tomorrow, other business discussed at the school board meeting will be reviewed.