Elkin City Schools will be asking the county commissioners to increase its funding through per-pupil allocations and another 1-cent supplemental tax rate increase, which would come from taxpayers within the city school district.
Jan Zachary, chief finance officer for the city school district, updated the school board during its annual meeting earlier in March on the system’s current budget situation and what the staff is proposing for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
The school board approved its budget requests Monday during its March school board meeting, which Zachary has to have the county officials by Thursday of this week.
The requests for local funding will be $1,175 per pupil for current expense funding for 913 students, $150 per pupil for capital outlay funding, $343,302 in special capital outlay requests and 1-cent supplement tax rate increase, which would bring the school district’s supplemental rate to 14.2 cents per $100 valuation. The additional 1-cent increase would generate $69,642.
All of those requests, except the special capital outlay request, mirror what the school system requested for the 2017-18 fiscal year, when they were approved for $1,140 per pupil in current expense, $110 in capital outlay, and 13.2 cents in supplemental tax, which was only a 1-cent increase when 2 cents was requested.
That additional 1-cent rate request will help address increases in utilities, retirement match, and hospitalization as well as the state’s required salary increases and medical assistant, Zachary said.
During the 2017-18 fiscal year, Zachary said the system budgeted $217,705 to be used from the fund balance to balance the budget. Now as it is more than halfway through the fiscal year and working on the 2018-19 budget, she projected the school system would have to use $150,000 to $175,000 from its fund balance, which must maintain at least three months of operational expenses.
If that is the case, that will leave $405,969 of available fund balance to pull from to balance the budget if needed, Zachary said. In working on the coming fiscal year budget, she is estimating a need for $229,761 of that available amount to be used.
Zachary updated the school board members on the current year’s budget status. In that update, she said the out-of-district tuition revenue for this year is up with $60,000 budgeted and $68,295 collected. Of those out-of-district, those who live in Surry County still bring local county revenue to the city district, but those who live in Wilkes and Yadkin counties only bring state funding and no local funding, she explained.
Out-of-county students increased from 249 to 265, causing a decrease in local funding of $18,800, she said. “But these same students affect state funding as an increase,” she said, because the state funding follows the increased average daily membership (enrollment).
She showed a breakdown of per-pupil expenditures and how it ranks Elkin among the state’s 115 school systems. At local funding, per-pupil expenses were $2,241.33, changing its 2012-13 rank from 75th to 104th for the 2016-17 fiscal year. But at the state level, the rank increased from 40th to 34th at $7.051.20 in per-pupil expenses, and federally, it increased from 53rd to 35th at $793.13 in spending. Overall, the system is ranked at 43rd in the state.
Last year, school systems were concerned with a new state mandate to decrease class sizes from kindergarten through third grade and how it was going to affect school system budgets because no money was being provided for the additional teachers that would be needed.
Zachary said the state Legislature has adjusted the implementation to gradually begin the reductions, with 2017-18 and 2018-19 keeping the average class size for all grades kindergarten through third at 20 students, with no individual class exceeding 23 students. Each year following 2018-19 the class sizes reduction will be phased in, with the original requirements of 18 in kindergarten, 16 in first grade, 17 in second and third grades to take place in 2021-22.
The state also has designed a plan so that until July 1, 2021, the regular classroom teacher funding allotment will pay for all classroom teachers for elementary school, including enhancement teachers such as art, music, physical education, foreign languages. After that date, funds for those teachers will be allotted through the program enhancement teacher allotment, she said.
Some funding for enhancement teachers will begin in 2018-19 and be phased in gradually based on the average daily membership of the elementary school for grades kindergarten through fifth. For Elkin, that is projected at 543 students. So in the coming year, Elkin is expecting funding for .71 positions, and by 2021-22, it is projected to receive 2.84 positions at 100 percent funding.
Elkin Elementary School has three program enhancement positions — art, music and physical education — so that state funding will not fully fund those positions, she said.
In the 2018-19 fiscal year, Zachary said at the state level, some of the items that will affect the Elkin City Schools budget include the new teacher salary will see an average increase of 5.2 percent; assistant principal will have an increase in pay that equals a teacher with a bachelor’s degree plus 19 percent; retirement match increases $21,077; hospitalization increases $19,975; and the state is cutting central office funding, which will bring Elkin’s funding down $5,772.
In requesting the $343,302 for special capital outlay projects from the county commissioners, Zachary said that money will be used to continue replacing netbook carts, infrastructure and other instructional technology needs; replace playground equipment at Elkin Elementary School where it is in poor condition according to school system officials; continue the conversion of lighting in buildings to LED; replace the last 20-year-old activity bus; and install keyless entry doors and gates to the activity bus lot.
The school systems are expected to meet with Surry County commissioners on May 1 to present and discuss their budget requests, Zachary said.
Make-up day this Friday
Also during the board retreat, the school board members unanimously voted to make up missed hours due to inclement weather by having students attend school this Friday, Good Friday, with an early dismissal at 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. The day was originally not an academic day for students.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.