April 17, 2014 | Vol. 40, No. 16

School district presents draft budget

Petersburg School District Finance Director Karen Quitslund presented a bare bones draft budget in front of the school board Tuesday evening.

Quitslund said next year’s school budget is the most challenging budget she’s worked on in her three years as finance director.

Staff had to plan the budget while dealing with several financial unknowns due to changes in education funding in the State legislature. Declining enrollment, which influences a state funding formula known as ‘foundation funding’, in Petersburg school’s also presented a challenge.

“We started out knowing our foundation funding was going to be reduced by $300,000 due to our declining enrollment…we knew that number was a fact,” Quitslund said.

Administration staff worked since January to deal with the deficit. Three teacher positions won’t be replaced and one staff member was let go in order to adjust to the decrease in revenue.

Insurance rates including workers compensation, property, liability and health insurance premiums along with borough services also increased.

Quitslund said good news did come in the form of a zero percent increase in health insurance premiums.

PSD Superintendent Rob Thomason said the district pays more than $1 million in health insurance premiums annually and while the zero percent increase is a blessing, it doesn’t come without a price.

“We don’t have a Cadillac health insurance program,” Thomason said. “We have a Chevrolet program and it’s not even a classic Chevrolet. It’s a good program and it meets people’s needs but it wouldn’t be happening without the cooperation and understanding of our staff. I must keep reemphasizing that because that change took place a couple of years ago. Although it was a struggle to do, it was done in the right spirit.”

Two years ago the district switched to a non-profit insurance plan because it's previous plan put too much of a financial strain on the budget.

The district is also waiting on what the legislature decides concerning House Bill 278 that would, in part, increase school district’s funding per student or ‘base student allocation’.

“We’ll have a bigger picture next month,” Quitslund said. “We’ll have the general fund as well as all the special revenue funds included in the presentation.”

Budget Highlights:

Projected Revenues:$9,505,101 (FY 14) $9,775,020 (FY 15)

Projected Expenditures:$9,535,172(FY 14) $9,794,412 (FY 15)

The current budget draft would draw $19,392 of its reserves.

Decrease in foundation funding of $302,000.

Insurance and services increases:

• 10 percent workers comp

• 15 percent property insurance

• 10 percent liability

• 3 percent electric

• 5 percent fuel

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