- $500,000 shortfall expected in 2005
The 2004 Clay Community Schools budget was the cause for a lot of discussion in the Board of School Trustees meeting Thursday night. Randy Burns guided the board through various forms that explained the somewhat disturbing situation.
Burns explained that he had placed all employees in a spreadsheet at a zero percent increase, but it still did not decrease the budget. Accelerating health insurance costs will be the largest expenditure, along with rises in workman's comp expenses and utility rates, especially natural gas.
Burns calculated the budget, estimating revenue low and expenses high. He said it will be a "painful process," but there will have to be more cuts before next year. Superintendent William Schad said it should not come as a surprise if classified employees are looked at before the end of this school year. He added that he can tell the members of this school board have their "hearts in the right place," but some of the cuts that will need to be made may not be good for the students. He also assured them that he wants to "do everything we can" to have the least impact on the children.
Some of the numbers may have been changed after the students were counted today, the first day of school.
Reductions that have already been made include transportation expenses. Schad said that last year Clay Community Schools spent about $71,000 on extracurricular transportation and he has cut that to $35,000 for this year. He has tried not to cut academic programs as much as sports, which have the "means to generate dollars." If it comes down to it, he thinks they may have to charge kids about $1.50 to go on field trips. Fuel costs could be approximately $40,000 more than last year, when schools spent $190,000.
At the end of 2003, there will still be a positive cash balance, in theory, but by Jan. 1, 2005, the general fund will be around $500,000 in the red. Some of the staff may have to be laid off and that may have to happen sooner than the board had planned. Burns said they have no way of knowing until they receive the 2003 budget and count the students, but the projected deficit may be even more than $500,000. He feels they may have to reduce the staff "pretty drastically."
The Capital Projects Fund is also a factor. The board will be deciding between two air conditioning projects, at Meridian and Clay City and fiberoptics for all the schools of the county except Jackson Township and Clay City, as the fiber would not reach that far south. It is also possible that they will put off all of these projects until 2005. The money in the CPF may have to be used elsewhere.
After a great deal of deliberation, the board voted 6-0 to advertise the 2004 budget.
The board also approved the resolution for employer participation in pick-up of additional employee contributions (Teachers Retirement Fund); the resolution for employer participation in pick-up of additional employee contributions (Public Employee Retirement Fund); the resolution to decrease appropriations; the resolution to decrease current year CPF appropriations; Section 125 Plan changes; special education textbook rental fees; conflict of interest statements; the emergency CPF resolution; and advertisement of additional appropriation for the Debt Service Fund.
Schad also mentioned that he had received a petition from parents who are concerned about the large fifth grade class at Jackson Township and the fourth grade class at Staunton. After the student count today, the board will be able to see if there are sections or grade levels that have dropped.
President Steven Grigsby announced that board members got a letter from the attorneys that represented them in the case against David Wise. Wise has decided not to take further legal action, so the situation is concluded.