Director: Revised school district budget better than projected

The Princeton School District still has a projected deficit balance sheet for the 2013-14 school year in its just-revised budget, but it is still better than the original budget, the School Board learned last week.

The board, with member Howard Vaillancourt absent, approved the revised budget in a 5-1 vote, with member Chuck Nagle casting the dissenting vote. Nagle complimented the presentation as being clear but said he was voting no because the board doesn’t have a plan for a balanced budget.

Michelle Czech, the district’s director of business services, presented the revised budget during the board’s March 18 meeting. The highlights are:

–General fund – Revenue $28.92 million, expenditures $30.26 million for projected $1.35 million deficit.

–Food service – Revenue $1.49 million, expenditures $1.62 million for projected $126,006 deficit.

–Community education – Revenue $1.01 million, expenditures $1.06 million for projected $48,335 deficit.

–Debt service – Revenue $4.44 million, expenditures $4.38 million for a positive balance of $59,286.

–Activity accounts – Revenue and expenditures balanced at $500,000 each.

The total of all funds are projected at $36.36 million revenue and $37.82 million expenditures for projected deficit of $1.46 million.

The balances in the funds are: General fund, $13.04 million; food service, $446,264; community education, $294,819; debt service, $443,911; and activity accounts, $98,397.

Czech called the unassigned part of the projected fund balance for the 2013-14 school year important because the funds are not designated or locked into any one type of expenditure.

Combined with a 2013 fund balance of $4.73 million, the unassigned part of the fund balance for the school year is projected to have $27.01 million in revenue and $27.75 million in expenditures for a projected positive fund balance of $3.98 million. Czech noted that the balance is $745,465 less than the unassigned balance for 2013. However, Czech said the projection had originally been that it would be about $800,000 less. She commented that the student enrollment has turned out to be better than projected and has continued to be stable through January, and so that has helped. The higher the enrollment, the more state revenue a school district receives.

The total fund balances when including all the designated funds and the unassigned funds are projected to end up with $11.79 million after projected total revenue of $29.42 million, and projected expenditures of $30.76 million. The projected ending fund balance is $1.35 million less than the 2013 fund balance.

Czech’s report noted that the unassigned fund balance is affected by enrollment changes, special education-tuition and third party billing, severance adjustments, and unplanned revenue and expenses.

Czech, in an interview after the meeting, said that the district has historically under-spent its budget. Another positive note for the district is that despite the very cold and snowy winter, the utility costs have not gone up significantly, she said.

But there are many fixed costs and the salaries are figured to come within the board’s parameters so they are a “given” amount in the budget, she noted.

The classified employees were to vote this week on a tentative negotiated settlement of a two-year contract retroactive to July 1, 2013. The vote took place after this week’s Union-Eagle deadline and if the teachers ratify the proposal, it would still have to get formal approval from the board.

The school district “will be OK,” Czech said after the meeting.