District presents prelim budget

BROOKINGS – Presentations on the Brookings School District’s preliminary budget for 2018-2019 and updates on proposed budget additions, cuts and other adjustments were given by Brookings School District Business Manager Brian Lueders and Superintendent Klint Willert this week.

As Lueders cautioned, the budget presented was not its final form and is sure to change before the final budget hearing, set for July.

One of the big changes to come will be the various cuts and other budget adjustments to the general fund, which were not included in this budget since they haven’t yet been approved by the school board.

The preliminary budget amounts to $56,489,960 in total, compared to $41,770,790 for 2016-2017. That difference is mostly due to refinancing of the Dakota Prairie bond redemption.

“Normally, Dakota Prairie would be about $1.5 million, but there’s $14,751,000 in escrow, and that will clear out next year from an advanced refunding. That’s a good portion of it,” Lueders explained.

There are also more modest increases to the general fund and the district’s capital outlay fund.

In regard to the general fund, the increase reflects the normal trend and expected needs of the growing school district in the upcoming year.

The general fund for 2018-2019 calls for a budget of $23,044,000, a number that anticipates the district growing by 50 students and included costs for staff, insurance and utilities.

The budget for the 2016-2017 general fund was $22.7 million.

Lueders doesn’t anticipate there to be much change in next year’s capital outlay budget. He set the budget for that fund at $5.1 million. That number takes into account such things as summer projects and federal reimbursement amounting to $62,400 for qualified school construction bonds for the Brookings High School Phase III addition.

For 2016-2017, capital outlay’s budget was set at $4.8 million.

The pension fund is coming to an end, with the 2018-2019 year being its final year of existence before it’s closed for good. Last year, it was budgeted $200,000. An estimated $240,000 will be spent in 2018-2019 in order to clear that fund out.

A total of $5.5 million is being budgeted for special education, $1.9 million for food service, nearly $100,000 in the enterprise fund and $4.8 million in the self-insurance fund.

In regard to bond redemption, more than $15 million has been budgeted toward Dakota Prairie’s bonds and more than $500,000 for Camelot’s.

As Willert indicated in his presentation, which was not up for board discussion or action and not factored into Lueders’ preliminary budget, most of the money the district receives goes toward student instruction and support.

Sixty-three percent of every dollar that comes into the district is spent on student instruction, paying for teachers, assistants, various supervisors as well as classroom supplies. Student support, which includes counselors, librarians, nurses and more, accounts for 7 percent.

The two categories of general administration and school administration (school board, superintendent, principals, secretaries, audit and legal fees, etc.) and business, building operations, staff support and transportation (staff, utilities, fuel, supplies, repairs, etc.) comprise a 7 percent and 18 percent of the district budget respectively.

Cocurricular related expenses such as coaches, officials and supplies, account for only 5 percent of the budget.

As Willert explained, the district is facing a structural deficit, which is when “the structure of the district is not aligned to the resources the district receives,” as he defined it.

In terms of anticipated revenues for 2018-2019, new state aid is projected to be $188,000 and there will be access to one-time state aid amounting to $137,410. Because the latter is one-time aid, it can’t be used for ongoing costs.

Due to expected student growth, they project an additional $278,000. Some other revenue sources would include a capital outlay transfer ($300,000) and a pension fund transfer ($150,000) and increased fees for activity passes ($5,100).

Additions to the budget would cost nearly $420,000. Some of the additions include hiring two additional elementary school teachers (estimated $123,000 total), another Camelot Intermediate School counselor ($61,500) in response to needs there and an additional eighth-grade reading teacher ($61,500).

Willert explained that the new eighth-grade teacher hire “ultimately becomes a wash on the other side of the equation … because we do have … the removal of a gray team teacher and this replaces that position.”

He added, “In the library, we have a resignation of a certified librarian at Camelot, and this would propose to replace that with a teacher assistant at Camelot.”

That would cost an anticipated $37,500. Other proposed additions include: a transportation assistant, a part-time career and technical education coordinator, among other things.

Willert and the administration team also found $387,000 in anticipated savings due to cuts and adjustments.

“We do have some attrition at the high school, and this proposal would be not to replace one of those high school positions (saves $89,300). Looking at the enrollment, the interest in programs, the number of programs that we offer and courses that we cover, the high school administration believes we can handle those needs without replacing the one position at the high school,” Willert said.

Reducing a part-time high school secretary position, with the individual still providing other services within the district, would save $23,000, and they expect $50,000 in savings due to teacher retirements, but that number is ultimately dependent upon their replacements.

When piecing this together, then, the district starts with an anticipated deficit of $184,000. Taking new revenues ($471,000), additional expenses ($420,000), cuts/adjustments ($387,000), costs from early retirements ($125,000), increased utility fees ($50,000), and negotiated settlement costs ($197,000), total deficit spending then amounts to $118,178.

“That’s subject to change, again, with some of those things that were identified earlier in Brian’s presentation as well as some of the numbers I identified that were maybe a little soft, but give us a pretty good framework to move forward,” Willert said.

Contact Eric Sandbulte at [email protected]

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