School district starts on '01 budget

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While the Steamboat Springs School District has received an additional $300,000 in funding from the state, the most noticeable addition to the district's preliminary fiscal year 2001 budget is the inclusion of some $800,000 in projected half-cent sales tax revenues.

"(The state funds are) a real good chunk of change," district fiscal officer Dale Mellor said. "But when you put it in context of a $13 million budget, it's not that much."

The Steamboat Springs RE-2 School District preliminary budget is available for review at 325 Seventh St. The Board of Education will discuss the preliminary budget at a June 5 study session and will vote on it June 12. The board has to approve a preliminary budget by June 30 and a final budget by Oct. 15.

This fiscal year, however, Mellor included almost $800,000 of half-cent sales tax funds that have been used for teacher salaries in the general fund revenues. Previously, those dollars were included in a special revenue budget.

"Accounting rules tell you it's better to do it this way," Mellor said.

That means that money funding the salaries of technology coordinators, the district grant writer Lynne Myers, content standards director Judy Harris and communications director Joanne Palmer, as well as many classroom teachers, was included in the budget.

"If we don't get (half-cent sales tax funds), we've got to cut $800,000 out of the budget somewhere," Mellor said.

Mellor estimates the district will collect about $1.4 million in half-cent sales tax revenue this year.

Grants and other revenue sources that fund teacher salaries, like the School-to-Career program which is solely funded by federal grants, also are included in the general fund this year.

Mellor, who started as fiscal officer in August, said the district is trying to be more accurate in its budgeting this year, although he cautioned that the preliminary numbers will change.

"I can't give a guess as to how much those changes will be," he said.

The total expected expenditures for the 2000-01 school year are $13,445,370 in the general fund. Roughly 80 percent of the general fund budget, or $10.2 million, is spent on salaries and personnel, he said.

This year's budget includes an additional $300,000, or 2.78 percent, from the state's school finance formula, he said. The bulk of the school district's revenue comes from local property taxes, but the budget does not change much from year to year, according to Mellor, because school districts have their hands tied by the state.

"There is very little leeway," he said.

The preliminary budget is based on last year's district enrollment of 1,913 students, although kindergarten students only receive half the funding, so the funded pupil count is 1,883. That translates into $5,880 per pupil, although $236 will be put into a state-mandated reserve fund. Those numbers could change when the school takes its official enrollment count on Oct. 1. Last year, per pupil funding was $5,718.

The 2001 fiscal year's budget also includes a 6.24 percent pay increase negotiated by the Collaborative Bargaining Team.

"The raise last year is reflected in this year's budget and it made it a little tighter," Mellor said. "Obviously, we can't give that kind of raise next year."

The Collaborative Bargaining Team will negotiate next year's salary based on the final student enrollment number, which is taken Oct. 1, Mellor said.

The breakdown of the preliminary general fund budget is:

  • General: $694,590
  • Soda Creek Elementary: $2,078,320
  • Strawberry Park Elementary:

$2,323,200

  • Middle School: $2,598,480
  • High School: $3,851,100
  • District office: $1,153,680
  • Transportation: $475,500
  • Human Services Center/Lee Trust:

$105,890

  • Transfers: $434,710

The general fund also includes some mandatory reserve expenditures. The total budget also includes capital reserves, special revenues, the bond for capital improvements and the lunch budget, which bring the total up to $18.7 million.

Mellor cautioned that this budget will change by the time final approval is given by the board in October, because of the October enrollment numbers, although Mellor said he expects enrollment will stay much the same as last year.

To reach Jennifer Bartlett call 871-4204 or e-mail jbartlett@amigo.net

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