Board members voted to approve the budget, which takes effect July 1, last week after they balanced $205 million in planned expenditures and $200.8 million in expected revenues with $4.2 million from reserves.
The budget assumes no change in the schools millage rate of 19.85, said District 2 board member D.T. Jackson.
“[Raising the millage rate] will be absolutely the last thing we do,” Jackson said.
However, it also reduces the school system’s fund balance to $13.8 million – higher than the $11.7 million the board set as a minimum but much less than the $20 million many bond rating agencies recommend the board have on hand to maintain highest ratings.
Board members earlier this month had considered a budget plan which included five furlough days – days off without pay – for teachers and staff because the deficit was forecast to be larger.
Last week, county officials reported the tax digest – the estimated total value of all taxable property in the county – declined by 2.5 percent, which was less than expected. Superintendent Gordon Pritz also said construction reimbursements and late property tax payments helped reduce the deficit.
About $65 million of budget revenues – about one-third — comes from county sources, while the remainder comes from state and federal sources.
Jackson said “with what we had to put up with” the budget came out “perfect.”
“There was no reduction in personnel. We took two [furlough] days back,” he said. “Overall, I think the budget is fine.”
Expected enrollment growth of at least 200 students also could bring more state funding, Jackson said.
Board Chairwoman Janet Kelley said she was “very pleased with the process” after new chief financial officer Greg Denney went through the budget “line item by line item” with the board during the process.
“They were crunching numbers on the days of board meetings,” Kelley recalled.
She noted board members are nearing a point where they will not be able to dip into reserves to balance the budget for the 25,000-student school system. The board also is facing some unknowns, such as the amount the county will receive from the change in the way vehicle title taxes are collected.
“I am very pleased we went from five to three [furlough days],” she said. “It’s just a very, very tight budget.”