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HCPS presents ‘good’ budget

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Proposed budget includes $17,422,333 in revenue

By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

At the May meeting of the HCPS board, superintendent Tim Abrams asked the board to approve the 2009-10 district tentative budget.

“It’s a good budget,” he said. “It shows us being in sound financial condition.”

Abrams said it is difficult to call it a great budget because although the district has a six percent contingency, future cuts at the state level could deplete the fund significantly. The district is required to maintain a reserve of at least two percent.

“There are so many unknowns from the state,” he said.

Abrams said there is a good possibility the governor will call a special session of the General Assembly this summer that will impact school revenues. “We wouldn’t want to, but we could absorb a four percent cut from the state,” he said.

Abrams said another problem affecting every district in Kentucky is a statistical glitch in the Infinite Campus software program utilized to track average daily attendance.

“We receive revenue based on average daily attendance,” he said. “Ours is based on an average of 1,933.5 daily.”

Abrams said the problem is the report comes up with wildly varying numbers each time it is run. “We’ve come up with numbers between 1,920 and 2,000” he said. “We run the same report twice and it varies as much as 80 kids.”

Abrams said the state as well as the vendor who supplied the software is working on the problem. “Every school system is dealing with the same thing,” he said. “I’m sure they will fix it.”

Abrams said the troubling thing is that the tentative budget is due to the state by May 30, so the numbers need to be accurate.

“It’s the low numbers that are very problematic.”

In the category of staffing, Abrams said an increase in salaries for classified and certified staff actually will cost the system 3.5 percent when benefits are taken into consideration. That is significantly higher than the state mandated one percent.

“Our folks deserve that and more,” he said, “but state revenue will not cover it all and it cuts into our funds. No additional revenue makes the increase problematic.”

Abrams reminded the board that a majority of the district’s general fund is earmarked for personnel costs. “Salaries and benefits are where 80 percent comes in,” he said.

Abrams said he is comfortable that no staffing cuts will be necessary. “I am happy we didn’t have to pink slip any staff,” he said.

A bright spot in the budget came from an unexpected source.

Abrams said the school’s nutritional costs have been kept well under control. There will be no increase in students’ breakfast or lunch prices. “Hopefully, that will make parents happy,” he said.

All in all, Abrams told the board he is very happy with the proposed budget for the next school year.

“I feel very comfortable with where we are,” he said, “and whatever the general assembly decides I believe they will remember how important education is for our state.”

 

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