Summit School District finances in good shape |

Summit School District finances in good shape

Janice Kurbjun
summit daily news

The quarterly financial report recently released for Summit School District shows the district’s expenses are on par with those forecast in the budget.

Expenditures that exceed revenues by $2.7 million as of this point in the year is always anticipated, said Karen Strakbein, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services.

The district has to operate in the red for several months – while borrowing money from an interest-free loan program through the state – as it awaits property tax revenue to come into the county coffers and be redistributed.

“We repay the loan in March when taxes are paid from the county to the district,” Strakbein said.

After the loan is paid back, revenue is enough to carry the district through to the end of the year.

“The budget is in balance,” she said, explaining that monthly cash flow doesn’t affect the overall annual budget.

Strakbein said the loan program was at risk with constitutional amendment 61 on the ballot in early November. The state ceased the program until the amendment died on Election Day.

Other educational services that survived Election Day was the transportation fund and the all-day kindergarten fund. Taxpayers voted to implement a mill levy that supports these programs in Summit County, but Amendment 60 threatened to undo all ongoing, voter-approved taxes. It, too, failed on election day and the stable funding for both programs can continue.

Strakbein also pointed to the grant fund as an area of interest. The district receives about $2 million in additional federal and state funding for special programs. Next year that funding will drop to about $1.6 million with the end of the three years of annual $300,000 boosts for the Closing the Achievement Gap grant. However, Strakbein said the unsustained money was spent on technology, curriculum resources and professional development that should outlast the funding.

Another highlight in the report is a chart that shows the mill levy for property owners dropping during the course of six years. Strakbein added that the same chart shows steady increases in property values every two years, but said there are indications that assessments will drop 19 to 22 percent next year.

That’s a bittersweet situation, Strakbein said, as lower property values and a lesser mill levy is good news for property owners but bad news for a district that depends on taxes for operating revenue.

The state intends to backfill the loss, Strakbein said, but good intentions may be met with reality as the budget is addressed in the upcoming legislative session.

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