Dickinson Public Schools budget in the black, despite uncertaintyDickinson Public Schools projects a budget surplus and enrollment growth for the 2012-13 school year.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
Dickinson Public Schools projects a budget surplus and enrollment growth for the 2012-13 school year.
But questions remain about state and federal school funding, said Superintendent Doug Sullivan.
“You’re aware that our federal government has not adopted a budget in quite some time,” he said. “The budget deal that was cut a little over a year ago said that if a budget wasn’t adopted shortly after the start of the calendar year, then there would become this 10 percent across-the-board cut.”
The federal government’s inability to pass a budget after the start of 2012 could impact two of the district’s programs — Title I and special education — if Congress acts on the 10 percent across-the-board cut it announced as part of the budget deal last year,
“But we don’t have any formal, official, final numbers on that. We have no information on what that might mean for Title I because, honestly, Mrs. Martinson just this week received the final budget for Title I for the current school year. We wanted the budget committee to be aware of this because it could literally be over $100,000 between the projects, depending on how it plays itself out. The budget implications, I think, are obvious. We don’t have answer at this point what that would mean for the district. We’ve talked about it and can only speculate how it may impact the schools.”
As of Wednesday, the district’s budget to expend next school year is $28,403,631, including an additional $400,000 for Prairie Rose Elementary.
That would leave the district operating $206,519 in the black.
“So, the bottom line, we still have a positive budget with about $50,773,” said Vince Reep, DPS’s assistant superintendent. “I’m feeling pretty good with all of the stressing and what ifs that we may actually bring August to the board a balanced budget. That would be out goal.”
But next month’s Measure 2 vote could change the projected funding.
If passed, Measure 2 would abolish the property tax and prioritize the Legislature’s spending and impact school funding.
Sullivan said the best guess is that passing Measure 2 would mean cutting the district’s budget by $1.2 million July 1. He said the board would be presented options at Monday’s meeting.
Leslie Ross, DPS budget committee member, said it’s good to see the district operating in the black but Measure 2 could impact finances.
“People want to know if we have a plan if Measure 2 passes when the other side doesn’t have a plan if Measure 2 passes either,” she said. “It’s not just property tax dollars. It is federal dollars that would be cut too. We’re looking at all of these cuts when we’re in this huge boom.”
The district also expects another year of enrollment growth next fall, Sullivan said.
“The threshold the school board unofficially established years ago sets it at 20 (students) per classroom in kindergarten and first-grade,” he said. “We have had 23 in the past, but the thing that we’re seeing is that the enrollment continues to come in. In March, we had 28 K through 5 students come in and 10 additional students at the junior high. What we’re not seeing is the decrease in students that we usually see at the high school. We’ve only dropped about 1 percent and usually we drop about 3 to 4 percent.”
Next school year’s kindergarten class is expected to have 245 students, although that number could fluctuate before August, Reep said.
“Some people who are registered might be gone already, but we also know that the last three-year average from the end of the school year through August, we’ll pick up another 25 to 30 students,” he said. “We know that finding another kindergarten instructor is going to be another challenge because we hired four already and there are many of those people around. We also think we have some good options right here. We have 23 elementary ed instructors who have their kindergarten teaching credentials that are not teaching kindergarten right now.”