The Armstrong School District (ASD) Board of School Directors formally adopted the 2019-2020 budget during last night’s public meeting.
The vote was unanimous among the eight board members present. Director Stan Berdell was absent.
ASD expects to spend $101.5 million. It was approximately $40,000 higher than projected in May. Revenue from taxes and other sources are expected to be just over $100 million. The shortfall of $1.5 million would be made up from the $10 million that is currently in the fund balance from the current school year.
Director Paul Lobby asked the ASD Director of Finance and Operations Sam Kirk what the current year’s fund balance was going to be. Kirk said he felt the budget would still require an infusion of about a half-million dollars.
“I think we are going to be very close at spending the entire $99.8 million. There will be just over $99 million in revenue. We were supposed to be $1.5 million short. It is about one-percent of the overall budget.”
Kirk defended the shortfall.
“There was a mold problem that didn’t anticipate that cost us about $250,000. There was another $100,000 that the Board authorized to put into the construction project that we didn’t have enough money for things we did. That was over $350,000 we used. So it will be real close to us spending the full amount of the budget this year.”
Kirk said he analyzes the figures daily as June 30 approaches, signifying the end of 2018-2019 budget.
“One of the things that we did this year with some funds that were left over was to purchase some technology that would have otherwise been dragged on to the following year,” Kirk told the Board. “We were able to cut back on some things in the next budget because we knew there was some funds left over. We are being creative at the way we are using different funds that are available to us.”
Kirk said that during the summer, his office is very busy with the budget process.
“At this time of year, we are working with three budgets. We are closing one out, we are starting a new one and we are beginning another one in October. Those months between July and October, there are literally three fiscal years we are working on at one time.”
In order to strictly analyze the condition of the budget, Kirk said building principals are not permitted to spend money after March.
“It is a big budget. Things are getting tighter, but we have a better handle on what we are spending it on. Our staff and principals are spending money they are allotted. In the past, they weren’t allowed to after January. We have got in a financial position where we don’t have to shut them off as quickly.”
ASD Board President Chris Choncek commended Kirk for his strategic planning.
“We don’t want education to suffer. You can only hold off (purchasing) text books and software for so long. You have to do what is right for the students and the taxpayers are paying that,” Choncek said. “Seems you are taking advantage of grants available. There is a lot of money out there that can do a lot of good for our district. It seems you are being aggressive about that.”
Choncek said that for the past several years, the District has been investing in its buildings with maintenance and upgrades. He is hopeful the investment will pay off in the long run.
Kirk said that because he has been able to maintain a fund balance of approximately ten-percent of the budget, that money is invested and brings back to the District nearly $500,000 annually in interest.
“When I first (became finance director), we only had $6 million in the bank. We earned $38,000. This year, we will earn approximately $480,000,” Kirk calculated.
Director Doug Smith thanked Kirk and his staff.
“They did a lot of work. It is a tough budget,” Smith said.