School Superintendent Rob Thomason presented a balanced budget to City officials on April 25 during a budget work session. No changes were made to the recently drafted Petersburg School District 2012/2013 operating budget.
“Over the years we've had great directors, we've had a very supportive city, we've had staffs that have negotiated agreements that were fair and equitable, and we've been able to do some very wise spending … and so we're in better shape than just about all of our colleague districts,” Thomason said.
The projected operating budget for 2012/13 recently drafted $8.7 million budget will still need to be sent to the state for approval.
According to Thomason, the main goals for the new budget are not only to maintain the high level of academic programs, but also to keep on the same level the quality of athletic, music, art, and vocational and other programs.
The district is also planning with the City to phase out the timber receipts, or Secure Rural School funds.
District spending is maintained at a 70/30 percent split. The allocation provides for 70 percent spent toward instructional activities and 30 percent in other types of operating costs such as insurance and heating costs.
“The budget pressures that are facing us are enrollments that are up and down, well down. But finally it's going up a little, so we are excited about that,” Thomason said.
The district expects to maintain 77 employees next year, but has an estimated 440 students, up from 426.
“Personnel costs, although very, very reasonable, they’re still going up,” Thomason said. “Increasing utilities costs, fuel and power, increasing facility maintenance costs, and equipment costs … none of this is inexpensive,” he added.
The budget consists of roughly $8.7 million from the General Fund, with another $779,000 in special revenues funds.
“The primary purpose of the general fund is to budget and account for all the district's operations, accept for those required to be 'other' funds,” Thomason said.
The special revenues fund, which makes up 8 percent of the total budget, consists of $202,000 for food service, $173,000 in Title VI-B funds, $159,000 for transportation, $90,000 in Title 1A Basic, $71,000 in Title 1-C Migrant grant funds and nine other smaller sources.
“Our funding sources are primarily the State of Alaska and the City of Petersburg,” Thomason said. “Federal grants, such as NCLB (No Child Left Behind) grants, comprise many different parts, but to this district it's about $200,000,” he said. “There's not a lot of flexibility in the No Child Left Behind grant,” he added.
The district is also responsible for retirement funds that are paid directly to employees but the district is still required to track.
“This district has a long and cherished history of spending money where it does the most good,” he said. “I would challenge anyone to find the wasted funds of this district.”
As Thomason presented the proposed budget to the board, he asked for their guidance in tweaking the details.