Summit school board unanimously approves 2020-21 proposed budget
Amid COVID-19, per-pupil funding dips 7%
DILLON — The Summit School District Board of Education on Thursday unanimously adopted a proposed budget for the 2020-21 school year.
The district’s chief finance officer Kara Drake proposed a budget to the board with a $2.8 million revenue shortfall. Per Drake’s forecast for next school year, that would result in a per pupil funding decrease from $8,795.30 to $8,140.86 — a dip of $654.44, or 7.4% per student.
As part of the approved budget, Drake forecasts the district’s revenue to decrease by 4.7%. She also forecast a decrease in the district’s total expenditures of 1.8%, including salaries to increase by 0.2%, benefits to increase by 2.3%, purchased services to decrease by 14.7%, and cost of supplies to increase by 16.8%.
Drake said the state’s forecast 5% reduction in funding, though not as bad as originally feared, would result in a significant shortfall to the Summit district’s budget.
“We’re spending $4.4 million more than the revenue we’re bringing in,” Drake said of the budget. She added, of that $4.4 million number, which will come from the district’s general-fund reserves, it includes a $2.8 million revenue shortfall to Summit schools’ annual budget and $1.1 million in one-time purchases and expenditures.
“We are going to have to make up for this shortfall here, as well as any other reductions we might see from the state in 2021-22,” Drake added.
In forecasting the budget, Drake assessed the district’s residential property valuation to increase by 1%, she said, mostly due to new construction. As such, the district will levy an estimated 19.194 mills, which is an increase of 0.102 from the prior year.
In the approved budget, Drake also planned for a $120,000 increase in the school’s Rural Reserve. These funds, she said, would in part go to finance a district community liaison position. The purpose of the position, she said, would be to hire someone who is bilingual to work with existing liaisons in individual schools and to improve connections with parents and community members, especially those whose primary language is Spanish. Other parts of the $120,000 one-time spend for the district in the Rural Reserve would be used to upgrade the district’s time-clock system, so that employees can clock-in remotely.
“The community liaison position is a great idea,” board member Gini Bradley said. “I think if the position is successful, we would have success funding (it for more than one year) locally. I hear it again and again from community partners. If we end up creating an oversight committee for that position, I encourage us to look at getting some funding partners engaged from the get-go so they have investment.”
Drake also detailed how the school would use the $170,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act monies it received via the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund grant. She said district leadership looked at survey results and amid the novel coronavirus pandemic prioritized that position for a custodial supervisor. The employee would oversee custodians, especially night custodians, and help with training.
“We feel in the COVID environment, this attention to detail in training is really important,” Drake said.
Other monies with the ESSER grant, Drake said, would be used for cleaning supplies to be in place for a potential resumption of in-person education at Summit school buildings in August. Grant funds would also go to tutoring.
On Thursday, the board also unanimously approved Drake’s 2019-20 supplemental budget for the district, which included modifications to this year’s budget including changes to the district’s supplemental capital Construction and technology fund, the grant fund, the bond fund, and the health benefits fund.
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