School district budget $54 million

Clark County Public Schools’ budget is looking better than it did a year ago when there was a $2 million shortfall, despite, or perhaps due to, the coronavirus pandemic.

Twelve teachers’ salaries, as well as others salaries and expenses, will be covered by part of the $24 million in CARES Act funding from the federal government, which will allow the district to not have to spend local money on some expenses, creating a budget surplus for the new year.

Other revenue sources also are up, including property tax values, which mean more money for the school district without raising rates.

“Last year we were in crisis mode,” CCPS Director of Finance Aleisha Ellis told the school board Monday night when she presented a first draft of the 2021-2022 fiscal year budget. “We were trying to cut our budget and get us back to balance” and just “get through it” with the “bare bones of what we had to have to operate,” she said.

The financial situation for the new year, however, is looking better.

“Good news. We’re sitting on about a $54 million budget,” Ellis told the board.

She mentioned that the state legislature approved a bill this spring that would provide for all-day kindergarten.

“Their intention is to fund it,” Superintendent Paul Christy said.

The district’s bond rating also looks good this year, she said, which is good news for capital projects such as the new Clark County Preschool, to be built behind Strode Station Elementary, and the new Phoenix Academy alternative school, to be built on the campus of George Rogers Clark High.

The draft budget must be approved and submitted to the Kentucky Department of Education by May 30. It was approved Monday night.

The state requires a 2 percent minimum of the budget to be held in reserve, or for contingency.

The new budget will fund schools from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.

According to a slide presentation on the budget, revenue for the current fiscal year’s working budget is estimated at $80.6 million, and for the FY 2022 draft budget, it is $54.7 million. The budget will be revised later in the year. The tentative budget for the year estimates $63 million in revenue.

The general fund, consisting mostly of local tax revenue and state SEEK funding, is beginning the new year with a $3.5 million beginning balance. One million dollars is expected to roll over from unused funds in the 2021 budget, and the SEEK money — the state’s main funding for students — is up this year more than $692,000. The total revenue increase for the general fund is $4.3 million.

This year’s 1.5 percent increase in property value is expected to be $48.4 million, and the school district’s budget is based on keeping the tax rates the same as last year at 63.7 cents per $100 of value for real property, 53.5 cents per hundred for motor vehicles and 3 percent for the utility tax.

On the expenditures side of the ledger, salaries and benefits were expected to increase by more than $1 million in the draft budget, based on a 1 percent average increase, but that was before school board members started making changes to salary schedules Monday for assistant teachers and others.

Total salaries and benefits are expected to exceed $30 million of the $54 million budget.

Special revenue funding is down this year from $31.4 million to $3.9 million.

Next year’s budget is expected to have more than $755,000 in additional capital funds.

Food service is expected to have $3.6 million.