State funding decrease will impact SAD 17 budget

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PARIS — Superintendent Rick Colpitts told SAD 17 directors Monday night that a very early review of the 2015-16 budget shows a projected increase of more than $1 million in expenses but only a $2,000 increase in state revenues.

“It’s only $2,000 in a $37 million budget if everything remains the same,” he said.

Based on an expected minimal increase in state and federal education funding, plus increases in payroll, health insurance and other factors, the district may be looking at an overall estimated budget gap of between $203,312 and $400,000, Colpitts said.

He said the “big picture” at this early point shows the district will need $19,863,510 to maintain existing programs and services. Expenses are expected to increase by $1.086 million.

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If the district decides to meet the state-mandated 100 percent local share for education funding this coming year, an additional $19,660,199, or 4.69 percent, will be needed. The district has two years to reach the 100 percent local share, but Colpitts said if they wait till the last year, the impact will be more difficult to absorb.

Also influencing the new budget are eight union contracts, including three that have not been settled. They include negotiations with the teachers, educational technicians and secretaries.

Colpitts said the affect of eight bargaining units is estimated at about $500,000,  plus another $400,000, or a 10 percent increase, to pay for health insurance for the district’s 600-plus employees.

Bus purchases will also affect the budget by an estimated $261,000, Colpitts said. He told directors the district is not keeping up with its planned purchases. The buses travel 770,000 miles each school year.

The implementation of the first year of the district’s new Strategic Plan is an unknown cost at this time, he said.

In planning the new budget, Colpitts said that any plan to reduce class size could cost between $500,000 and $750,000. If deferred facilities maintenance plans from fiscal years 2013 and 2014 are put in place this coming budget, it will cost $3,836,033.

Special education costs have increased almost 50 percent over the last three years. A total of 497 students needing those services were identified in fiscal year 2009. That number is now 571, for a 14.06 to 16.8 percent budget increase.

Title I and II programs are expected to remain flat funded by the federal government, which means the cost is passed on to local taxpayers, Colpitts said.

The budget will become a “balancing act” between resources such as local tax dollars, state revenues and other limited sources and the district needs, he said.

Although the total budget has increased 4.17 percent since 2010, Colpitts said taxpayers have seen a 21.36 percent increase in their share because of the shift from state to local funding, Colpitts said.

Colpitts and Business Manager Cathy Fanjoy Coffey will begin reviewing each department’s budget needs in January. In February, a Budget Committee will be established to review requests. In April, town officials and the public will looks at the budget before it is finalized by the Budget Committee and adopted by the school board in May. The district budget hearing is set for May 28 followed by the budget validation vote on June 2.

In other school board action, directors approved the payment of $25,471 for second quarter bills from three charter schools and approved the lease purchase of three condensing propane boilers for up to $95,000 for the Hebron Station School this winter.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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