Preliminary ASD Budget has No Tax Increase

Business Manager Samuel Kirk (right) reviews with directors of the Armstrong School District last night more than 50 pages of financial information that created the 2019-2020 budget.

Six of the nine school board directors showed up for a presentation on the Preliminary Proposed Budget for the next school year.

Armstrong School District (ASD) Director of Finance and Operations Samuel Kirk summarized a 50-page report full of numbers that showed one thing – ┬áNo tax increase!

“This budget is the first budget in the Armstrong School District to eclipse $100 million,” Kirk said. “We are looking at $101.2 million, which is a $1.8 million increase over the previous year. Expenses coming in at $99.7 million, which is $1.5 million increase over the current year. The difference we will offset with our fund balance, which is currently at $11.2 million.”

Kirk said it is always a challenge to meet educational needs while keeping spending under control.

“The Administration and the Board of the Armstrong School District works diligently to create a budget that will support the students and teachers with supplies and what they need for a good education as well as keep the taxpayers in mind.” he said following the meeting.

Kirk estimated that revenue will increase next year based on trends that he has observed the last few years, but so will expenses.

Samuel Kirk uses a projector to show the budget on a screen in the Large Group Instruction room at West Hills Intermediate School last night.

“We had some areas in the budget that saw increases. There is the purchase of Science textbooks at a cost of $500,000, Retirement costs, and health care costs, but we have done our best to minimize increases in other areas.”

Kirk told the school board that consolidation was the reason there was not a need for a tax increase.

“Consolidation that happened four years ago has enabled the District to build a fund balance that is healthy enough that if our revenues do not meet what are expenses are, we have funds put away to meet that difference. Therefore, we don’t need to raise taxes. The reason our fund balance is at $11.2 million, over the past three years is because our expenses have slowed down since consolidation. Consolidation started the positive financial trend in this District.”

Kirk discussed a six-year facilities plan for upgrades at various schools. It included $1.8 million ofr a new roof at Lenape Elementary, $435,000 for replacement of vehicles, and $2.1 million for HVAC upgrades to Dayton Elementary. School board director Doug Smith said Dayton was the only school without air conditioning and felt that project should be done as soon as possible. The Board had heard a presentation from Tower Engineering earlier in the year. Smith was joined by Director Stan Berdell who said it should be a priority.

“We heard the Board loud and clear regarding Dayton Elementary,” Kirk said. He projected that bids would be received in November and the work completed in the summer of 2020.

Long range projections show the budget to be at $107.2 million by the 2022-2023 school year.

“The District will need to continue to find ways to manage the increases in our expenses as well as be creative with revenue increases,” Kirk said.

A presentation will be made at the Caucus meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 2. He anticipates the adoption of the preliminary budget at that time. By state law, the budget then be available in the District office for 30 days to give the public time to come and look at it if they so desire. The final approval is scheduled to be given on June 17. The budget will go into effect July 1, 2019 and run through June 30, 2020.

Kirk will be featured on the WTYM morning show on Monday, April 29 at 9:30 AM to go into more detail about budget line items.