The St. Francis Area School District’s preliminary budget for the 2021-22 school year shows a slight deficit in general fund spending, but the budget process is complicated this year by a variety of unknowns.
The School Board unanimously approved a budget June 14 showing $50.29 million in general revenue and $52.74 million in general fund expenses. That shortfall of $2.45 million will be offset by a nearly $1 million reduction in the capital reserve/restricted funds, according to a presentation by business services director Bernice Humnick.
The food service fund is projected to have $1.98 million in expenditures, almost exactly the same as revenues. The community education fund is estimated to see $2.57 million in expenses, a shortfall of about $77,000 compared to revenue.
A variety of factors contribute to uncertainty around final budget numbers. The budget was prepared before the state Legislature finalized its budget, and enrollment numbers were harder than usual to estimate because of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty about its impacts on enrollment next year. The district also had many open positions that will affect fund balances and future decisions, Humnick said.
On the positive side, federal funds are expected to provide some relief for the unknowns.
Of the general fund expenses, $32.87 million (62%) is budgeted for salary and wages. Benefits account for $10.26 million (20%), followed by fees for service at $4.87 million (9%) and supplies and materials at $2.78 million (5%). Capital expenses are $1.54 million (3%), and dues, memberships and taxes are about $423,000 (1%).
Despite the uncertainty, Superintendent Beth Giese told the School Board June 14 there was “nothing alarming” about the preliminary budget.