School audit: no problems, but revenue crunch

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 1999

The school district received a clean bill of health in how it spent its revenues in 1999.

Friday, October 29, 1999

The school district received a clean bill of health in how it spent its revenues in 1999.

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But while the 1999 audit revealed no findings, or defects in its accounting system, it shows that the district’s general budget reserves are at about zero.

In past years, district auditors have advised the school district to carry a $1.75 million fund balance at the end of each fiscal year, but with enrollment continuing to decline, the district can no longer expect large surpluses.

In the audit, the district’s general revenues were listed at $25,160,713. It spent $25,033,848, but has also yet to settle with any of its bargaining unions in the current budget.

&uot;As far as the general fund reserves, that puts us at zero,&uot; said Mark Stotts, district director of finance and operations. &uot;We’re back to $0 and we would like to build the fund balance back up.

&uot;With the salary settlements, we will be sitting at $0,&uot; he added. &uot;That’s as good as can be expected given the fact that we’re losing kids.&uot;

Stotts said the fund balance shows exactly why the district has and must continue to cut its budget to keep afloat during difficult enrollment declines; about $950,000 was cut from the audited budget as an example.

With the district receiving about $5,000 per student in state aid and enrollment dropping by 100 students last year, Stotts said a projected 100-student drop this year means the district must also cut about $900,000 in the current budget if funding formulas aren’t increased.

If state budget projections are favorable this year, the Legislature has also promised a $50 per student payment to school districts. That would provide the district with about $230,000 and ease some reductions, Stotts said.

&uot;Right now we have 27 more kids in the classrooms than was budgeted,&uot; Stotts said. &uot;But we know that will drop off.&uot;

While the school board is now recommending closure of Brookside Middle School to students next year to meet its budget, expected future enrollment declines may require more classroom restructuring, Stotts said; a district demographer is projecting a 10-year enrollment decline of about 1,000 students.

&uot;Fifth-grade classes right now are at 346 kids,&uot; he said. &uot;After that, it drops off significantly.&uot;

In other news:

* The completed audit also showed that the district earned about $2 million in interest from funds it received to improve district facilities and build a new high school; thus far, the district has spent about $11 million in this process and has $24 million in its building construction fund.

* A committee of district staff will present an alternative to the current recommendation of closing Brookside Middle School to students during Monday’s school board meeting.