The school board approved a $288.2 million 2011-12 budget Monday with a projected deficit that substantially grew in the past month.
On Aug. 29, the district anticipated an , but with new information that's become available since then, the district now is projecting an operating fund deficit of $9.2 million
John Prince, assistant superintendent for business and operations, said the district has had to adjust for about $1.65 million less in state aid than it previously anticipated, while paying about $1.68 million more in expenditures, mostly in health insurance and new student information software costs.
Operating costs -- the total of six funds used to pay daily expenses -- show total expenditures at $251.3 million and total revenue at $242.1 million. Last month, the district anticipated total expenditures at about $249.6 million and total revenues at about $243.8 million.
School board member Rod Westfall, who voted against approving the budget, said he did so out of protest. The state is continuing to underfund education and reduce transportation and per-pupil funding forcing districts that already have lean budgets to cut more programming and staff, he said.
“I’m sick and tired of state leadership not doing a damn thing because it directly affects our community and our kids,” he said.
When voting on the budget, board members said they want to ensure all available non-personnel cuts are made before staff gets reduced.
Supt. John Harper said that while he agrees with that philosophy and shares in the board’s commitment, it is difficult task because salaries and benefits make up nearly 80 percent of the school district’s budget.
The school board will have to make tough decisions ahead.
“We’ve adopted the budget, but we are not done talking about it,” board President Roger Bonuchi said.
Since March 2009, the district has cut 272 full-time equivalent certified, support and administrative positions to save about $29 million. The district cut 86 positions in 2009; 159 positions in 2010 and .
“Every year this gets more and more difficult,” board member Michael Kelly said, adding that programs the district once put in place to help children have had to be dismantled because of budget restraints.
District officials said a still-weak economy combined with reduced state funding, a decrease in property values and new construction, high rates of foreclosures and higher expenses have all contributed to the bleak budget.
The district is expected to be on the state’s financial watch list, the worst of four indictors of financial stability, from the years 2012 through 2017.
The district is projecting a $14.1 million budget deficit in fiscal year 2013. Without additional revenue created through more budget cuts, this deficit would cause the district to deplete all of its working cash to pay its expenses leaving its aggregate operating fund balance $1.56 million in the red, according to the district’s outside financial advisors, PMA Financial Network.
Negative fund balances are projected to accumulate.
A projected budget deficit of $14.4 million in fiscal 2014 will lead to an aggregate operating fund balance of negative $15.9 million that year, and the district could be $33.7 million in the hole by 2015.