After making steep budget cuts last year to “right-size” St. Francis Area Schools, the district expects to operate at a slight deficit for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which began in July.
Based on the preliminary budget approved by the School Board in June, general fund revenues are estimated around $50.5 million, with expenditures at $50.9 million. That’s a difference of about $400,000, or less than 1%. Most other district funds will also operate at a slight deficit.
General fund expenses are planned to go up about 1.6% this school year. Salaries, wages and benefits account for the vast majority of general fund expenditures, and both are expected to increase, despite anticipated staff cuts. Budgeted spending on supplies is going down about $410,000, or 18%.
The district declined a request for comment on cuts to staff and supplies.
The state provides about 84% of the district’s general fund revenue. This year the Legislature approved a 2% increase in the general per-pupil funding formula, an assumption that was built into the preliminary budget.
The next largest source of income is local and levy revenue, at about 13%. Approximately 3% of the district’s revenue comes from federal sources.
The cost of special education services continues to be a topic of discussion. While the district expects to spend almost $12.5 million on special education, it receives roughly $8.5 million in aid to cover those programs.
Business Director Bernice Humnick told the board that means the district expects to spend around $4 million from other sources to pay for special education. That is known as the special education “cross-subsidy.”
St. Francis Area Schools also continues to see a trend of declining enrollment, which affects the state revenue it receives. Humnick said the district is not alone in this respect.
“Most districts are seeing a decline because there’s less births,” she told the School Board. “People are not having as many children. They’re waiting until a later time in life to have kids, and so there’s a natural decline in most districts.”
The district declined a request for comment on the deficit in the budget and whether more significant cuts or other changes would be needed in the future.