“Most of the increases are in the salaries and benefits area,” said Cole.
With the increase in health insurance, district officials are expecting to spend about $4.5 million more on insurance than last year.
State salary step increases have cost the district about $3 million.
The district expects to spend about $180 million on salaries and benefits in fiscal year 2013.
Cole also said the drop in the county’s tax digest has equated to a decrease of about $4.7 million of local funding for the schools since last year, even though the millage rate has remained the same.
A millage rate of 18.909 will help fund the budget. The rate has not changed since the 2008 budget year, though the funding it produces has dropped from $75.5 million in 2009 to an anticipated $48.2 million in 2013, according to numbers provided to the board. Enrollment in the district has increased by almost 9,000 students in 10 years, according to district documents.
To adjust for the shortfall, the district has reduced personnel by 23 employees.
The district eliminated 25 teacher positions, one counselor position, five “district certified” positions, one parapro position and two “district classified” positions.
The district added seven parapro positions; however, leaving a difference of a 23-employee reduction from last year. Class size will remain the same, however.
The district has also eliminated their health insurance payment of $56.92 per month per employee.
“We will continue to be conservative with hiring,” said Cole. “We don’t anticipate the economy getting any better over the next few years.”
Board member Nick Chester said he anticipated changes in the budget in the future.
“The budget is good, but it’s definitely not great,” he said. “Sooner or later, we’re going to have to explore some structural changes. We can’t just keep hoping the economy improves.”
The district expected a $7.4 million deficit for fiscal year 2012, as well, according to Chief Financial Officer Gayle Blalock.
However, Blalock said the deficit will most likely only be about $1 million by the end of fiscal year 2012 on June 30. A total of $3.4 million of the $6 million difference is revenue collected from prior years’ taxes, state Quality Best Education (QBE) state funding and utility capital credits, according to Blalock. Blalock said the rest is in expenses. District officials analyzed the scheduling and movement of employees to cut costs and utilized methods such as hiring employees on limited contracts, which cut on benefits.
“If that (deficit) comes true, the ending balance will be $22 million going into next year’s budget,” said Blalock.