August 19, 2010

State Funding Cuts Lead to Higher School Tax Levy

The Scotland County R-I Board of Education met in regular session on Thursday, August 12. The Tax Rate Hearing preceded the regular meeting at 6:15. President Gary Miller called the regular meeting to order at 6:30 p.m., with six members present. Matt McKee was absent.

The board voted 6-0 to renew The Missouri School Board Association membership. MSBA provides assistance and numerous services to rural schools, including legal services, policies, trainings and workshops dealing with current issues. Annual membership is $3,700.

Superintendent Dave Shalley gave a legislative and funding update to the board.

“State funding continues to be a major concern, for at least the next two years,” he stated. “The projected budget gap as of mid July is $600 million and DESE has received word that all FY11 withholdings are to be considered permanent budget reductions.” He added that educators are concerned that any new budget items requested from the general revenue of the state must be offset by other reductions, that could continue to hit education funding.

Shalley noted that the district mileage rate is set to follow the state rate and will be lowered to 37 cents.

One bright spot was the House passage of HR 1585, which is on the President’s desk for approval. The superintendent stated this legislation is estimated to bring $189 million to education over the next year.

“We do not know how much, if any, of the money will flow to our district,” he said.

In other business, the board voted 6-0 to set the tax rate for the 10-11 school year at $3.36. This is below the voter-approved ceiling of $3.69 allowed by the passing of the prop C waiver several years ago but does represent an increase from last year’s approved levy rate of $3.25.

Shalley indicated the tax rate is expected to generate $84,146 from new construction and $10,186 from reassessment. 2010-11 revenues will total $1,645,143. This is $94,383 above the revenue from 2009.

With the release of the Annual Secretary to the Board Report (ASBR) the district revealed it is maintaining strong financial reserves despite concerted efforts to spend down a portion of the surplus.

At the close of each fiscal year, the district must report to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education the status of the district’s finances and other academic programs from the preceding year.

The ASBR shows the district balances at 39.32%, with an ending balance of $2,299,238.66. Last year’s revenues totaled $5,761,078.35 and expenditures were $5,921,339.81 with the district realizing a deficit of $160,261 during the 2009-10 school year.

“This is below the projected deficit and continues the gradual planned draw down of the balances,” said Shalley who noted that past boards had established a desired 17% budget reserve level.

At the end of the 2008-09 school year, the ASBR showed the district balances at 39.85% with ending balances of $2,459,832.12 after deficit spending of $137,039.08.

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