Summit School District approves 2021-22 budget |

Summit School District approves 2021-22 budget

Summit High School is pictured March 18, 2021. The school board unanimously approved its proposed 2021-22 budget at a special meeting Wednesday, June 23.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

The Summit School District Board of Education unanimously approved the proposed 2021-22 budget during a special meeting Wednesday, June 23.

Kara Drake, the district’s chief finance officer, said one of the first steps in creating the budget is determining the guiding principles for the school year. This year’s guiding principles are as follows:

  • To align resources with Summit School District goals, targets and priorities.
  • To allocate resources to support and maximize instructional time based on student achievement and need.
  • To determine staffing based on positions needed and not individual people.
  • To achieve a balanced budget.

“I personally feel that what we are signing off on tonight is aligned with our mission and our vision and the work that we have in front of us,” board President Kate Hudnut said at the meeting.

The board negotiated a two-year plan to increase teachers’ starting salaries to $50,000 during the 2022-23 school year, something Drake said has been a longtime goal of the district. According to the document, base salaries for the upcoming school year will increase from $44,530 to $48,500.

Ross Morgan, chair of the district’s accountability committee, said the committee’s only concern with the budget is that salary increases are currently budgeted from reserved funds. He said the committee is supportive of salary increases, but members would like the board to pursue long-term solutions to accommodate these increases sooner rather than later.

The district also made compensation adjustments for support staff and administrators whose salaries are more than than 5% below market value — as determined by a consulting firm the district works with — to bring them up to par. These adjustments are made prior to annual increases. This year, 36% of staff will receive market adjustments along with 3% of administrators.

Support and administrative staff will also receive a 1.7% experience increase to their salaries as well as a 6.4% annual increase, which together is equivalent to the annual increase negotiated by teachers.

Every year there are some assumptions made within the budget because of how much funding can change throughout the year, Drake said.

The budget is built on estimated per-pupil funding, which is set to increase 13.1% from $8,140 during the 2020-21 school year to $9,207 in 2021-22. Last year during the pandemic, per-pupil funding saw a 7.4% drop from the previous school year.

In total, the district budgeted for about $67.6 million in revenues for the upcoming year, compared to about $62.1 million during the 2020-21 school year. The district budgeted more than $70 million in expenses across all funds, compared to $68.4 million last school year.

The majority of the district’s revenues come from property taxes, with more than $45 million expected this upcoming school year. Salaries make up the bulk of expenses, with about $34.4 million headed to teachers and staff during the upcoming school year.

The district is expected to spend about $2 million of reserved funds to account for higher expenditures than revenue.

Drake said the total revenue for next year will likely increase based on enrollment and the final version of the state’s School Finance Bill. She said while doing its enrollment forecast, the district assumed students that were home-schooled over the past year would return to the district next year.

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