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School Board Passes Sound Budget

Cory Fisher

The financial future looks bright for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s upcoming year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board of trustees voted unanimously to adopt the final 1997/98 budget.

Total revenue projected for the district is $28,733,674 – a 2-percent decrease from 1996-97. This year’s unexpected decrease is due to a large chunk of one-time state dollars received last year, said LTUSD Business Manager Ralph Johnson, which included funding for facilities and state block grants earmarked for individual school needs.

Budgeted costs for next year – down 2.9 percent from last year – are $28,196,593, leaving the district with an ending fund balance projected to be $1,047,500 in restricted funds and $3,016,888 in unrestricted funds.

According to Director of Financial Services Diane Head, most of the unappropriated money was carried over from the previous year – 6 percent of which is reserved for economic uncertainty.

The largest chunk of revenue – 71 percent – comes from the state based on average daily attendance and other factors. The district is projecting an unusually low increase in daily attendance – only seven students – which is a potential source of future concern, said Johnson.

Last year the district projected an additional 60 students – also historically low – but lost more than 90 students due to transiency and other factors by mid-year.

“Enrollment growth works to the district’s advantage – this is the lowest we’ve seen since the early ’80s,” Johnson said. “We could see some loss of revenue down the road.”

The 1997-98 projected revenue limit income is expected to be roughly $3,400 per pupil after deficit, allowing for a 2.65 cost of living adjustment.

The remaining sources of revenue are 4 percent from federal, 21.9 percent from other state funding and 1.9 percent from local revenue.

Johnson said the state plans to increase money allocations for class-size reduction from $650 per student to $800. That would give the district a $200,000 boost in their program that reduces student-teacher ratios from 30 to 1 to 20 to 1 in the first through third grades.

Should state facilities funds become available to extend class size reduction to kindergartners, Johnson said the district is prepared to expand staff and apply for money for more portable classrooms.

Although not as much, Johnson said he anticipates one-time state monies to come in again this year once the state budget is adopted. Although the amount is unspecified by the state, it is expected to be allocated in February of 1998.

“Although there is not yet total agreement between the Legislature and the governor, the state budget is shaping up to be a good one for education,” said Johnson. “But projecting our budget before the state does is always a challenge.”

Head said if there are changes in the state budget, they would probably not be in sums, but in stipulations as to how the money is spent in each district.

When it comes to projected district expenses, personnel costs make up the largest piece of the pie – roughly 81 percent – while the remaining 19 percent are expenditures for items such as materials, supplies, textbooks, staff training, insurance, utilities, contracts, transportation fuel and equipment.

Since the passage of a $7.725 million bond in 1992, Head said roughly $10 million more has been spent on facilities upgrades.

Nothing has been built into the budget for salary increases, said Head, however negotiations are scheduled to begin in July.

For each dollar spent, 49.3 cents will go toward general education, 10.4 cents to special education, 8.1 to special projects, 7.3 to school instruction administration, 10.5 to maintenance and operating costs, 5.7 to general administration, 4.2 to pupil transportation and 4.5 to pupil services.

“It’s a budget that’s fiscally sound that enables us to provide the kinds of programs kids deserve,” said Assistant Superintendent Rich Alexander. “It’s allowing us to move ahead in our efforts to provide students with a good education.”


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