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School board approves $39.9M budget

June 30, 2010 - By a vote of 6-0, the Oxford Community Schools Board of Education voted to approve the district's $39.9 million budget for the 2010-11 school year.

"Many difficult actions were taken to accomplish the budget plan for next year," wrote Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Tim Loock in the budget book that was presented to the board. "All employees have sacrificed or given back in the interest of the students and we are thankful for their participation in helping keep the district viable and successful."

The budget recommendations called for the district to have expenditures of $39,883,440, while generating $39,883,869 in revenue and having an estimated fund balance of $4,357,849.

Loock indicated that he based the budget on the best information that he had available. He said his biggest challenge was figuring out the expected revenue because the state had not decided how much aid they were going to give for the Foundation Allowance.

"We don't really know what our foundation allowance is...their (the state) fiscal year doesn't start until Oct. 1, so we might not see a state aid act until we are well under way," Loock said.

In order to calculate the budget, Loock anticipated the state trimming another $100 off of their per pupil funding and a zero pupil increase from the February count. "The track record has been to have something happen during the year that is going to be a financial hit," Loock said.

Loock said that they were going to take the count in February and replicate it to the fall.

When calculating what the revenue from the state foundation allowance will be, Loock takes 25 percent of the February number and 75 percent of the number from the district's count day in the fall and blends them together.

Loock said that for the 2010-11 school budget, he duplicated the February number and took 25 percent of the February number and 75 percent of the duplicated number for funding purposes next year.

"If our enrollment increases in the fall, then we will have a larger number from September to calculate into our blend, which will increase our state aid," he said.

He added that they will have a good idea about how much they will receive in September, but they won't have the actual amount until November or December, after the state audits the numbers and recalculates state aid.

In addition to those two assumptions, the district saw an 11.23 percent decrease in taxable values on homestead and non-homestead properties from 2009.

Taxable values went down $119,811,366 from properties in Dryden, Hadley, Metamora, Addison, Leonard, Brandon, Oxford Twp. and the Village of Oxford.

The board voted to keep the non-homestead property tax rate at 17.9946 mills.

$1,937,774 will also be taken out of the federal revenue due to ARRA stimulus funds running out.

"We knew that was going to happen, so we tried to plan accordingly and tried to use as much federal money for purchasing things, curriculum-related items and onetime expenditures."

Loock is budgeting $4,692,560 for local revenue, $30,429,507 for state revenue, $2,423,016 for federal revenue and $2,338,786 from other sources of income, mainly special education.

The amount of revenue was reduced by $1,521,068 from the 2009-2010 school budget.

Loock was able to determine the expense side of the budget more accurately because he knew the projected savings.

The district also was able to save $2,577,360 in expenses from the previous year's budget, due in large part to teacher concessions, custodial privatization and the district's retirement incentive.

"We have a pretty good handle on what the savings are on those things that are placed in the budget," Loock said.

The district's teachers opened up their union contract and delayed taking their pay steps until January 2011, which saves the district $305,000. In addition, the district saw a 5.5 percent increase in what teachers pay out of pocket for health care, totaling $200,000.

That amount was offset when the teachers took concessions in their health care plan. "They agreed to a less costly plan from the district's standpoint, so the increase to the cost of the premium has been absorbed by them changing to a less expensive plan," Loock said. "But it is more expensive for the teachers because they are going to be paying more out of pocket for co-pays, deductibles and so forth."

A total of $800,000 came out of the expenditure side of the budget when the board voted to approve the custodial privatization back in April, while the district saved just over $1 million when 25 teachers took advantage of the districts retirement package.

Loock also indicated that the cost of the utilities in the schools would be down 9.2 percent, and that the district built in some extra money for the interest expense in cash flow borrowing. "We won't have to incur that expense, but if we do, we have the budget to handle it...we won't know for months if that is going to happen," he added.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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