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Public hearing set for $34.7 million school budget

by Kate Evans

The Morgan County School Board approved their proposed Fiscal Year 2023 total budget of $34,752,708 for publication at their May 3 meeting.  School Treasurer Ann Bell gave her budget presentation at the meeting before the school board’s vote.

The proposed total budget revenue consists of an estimated general current expense fund of $27,578,960 and an approximate special revenue fund of $3,673,747.

The federal stimulus and stabilization fund (Fund 71) also has $3,500,000 in revenue.  It includes the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund money (ESSERF) and American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding.

The school general current expense fund budget revenue grew $1,365,371 from last fiscal year due to tax revenue from increased property values and state aid for increased enrollment, Bell said.

State aid rose by $734,354.

The special revenue fund increased by $85,345 from last fiscal year and the federal stimulus money in Fund 71 rose $2 million.

Budget public hearing

A public hearing for the proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget is scheduled for the school board’s Tuesday, May 17 meeting which starts at 6 p.m. at the school board office. The budget will be formally adopted later during the meeting. The public can also attend the meeting via Zoom.  Instructions for accessing the Zoom meeting link are on the meeting agenda on the county school website.

The school budget is published in today’s edition of The Morgan Messenger and is also posted on the Morgan County Schools website. Paper copies are available at the school board office.

Revenue

The general current expense fund revenue includes a projected $5,586,232 in regular school levy property taxes, $4,724,733 in special levy taxes, $812,500 in prior year taxes, $10,032,146 in total basic state aid and an estimated $1,000,000 carryover fund balance.  Some $500,000 of the carryover-2% of the budget-is reserved for contingencies.

The estimated tax revenue from the combined school levies rose by $502,351 from Fiscal Year 2022. Bell said that county assessed property values had increased $56,374,981 since last year, with a $36,588,584 rise in Class II residential property values.  The local share deduction went up $235,895 due to the increased tax revenue, which reduces state aid the same amount, Bell noted.

Bell’s secondary preliminary computations show the projected total basic state aid increasing $647,724 for Fiscal Year 2023, mostly due to the rise in student enrollment.  There was an increase of 37.70 fulltime enrollment (FTE) students this school year which means more state aid. State aid is based on student enrollment numbers.

Other considerations

Bell said that the school system has 3.91 professional personnel and 7.494 service personnel over the state formula.  It also has 12 professional personnel that aren’t eligible for state funding including some director positions, Bell’s treasurer position and the payroll director.  Salaries and benefits are approximately 80% of the school budget.

There are also debt service payments-the CMTA energy management program lease purchase payment of $251,355 and the QZAB no-interest loan payment of $66,666 for the Berkeley Springs High School renovations, Bell said.

Costs for contracted services for specialists are always up in the air, she said. Rising costs for the pre-K/Head Start Collaborative, vehicle replacements and  items like diesel fuel and gasoline due to the economy and inflation are other factors for which  Bell has to budget.

Bell said that tuition costs for James Rumsey Technical Institute declined as fewer students are attending.

Expenditures

Estimated school expenditure categories include $15,313,908 for instruction; $2,892,171 for facilities operations and maintenance; $2,301,949 for student transportation; $1,796,327 for student support services; $1,607,998 for school administration; $1,253,270 for instructional staff; $446,303 for central services; and $354,106 for central administration. Some 56% of the budget goes toward instruction, Bell said.

Some $21,047,406 will go toward professional and service personnel salaries, substitute costs, supplemental salaries for coaches, afterschool tutors and extracurricular duties plus benefits including health insurance, retirement benefits, Social Security, Medicare and dental/vision insurance.

Special revenue fund

The $3,673,747 special revenue fund includes Title 1, Title 2 and Title 4 funding, funding for special education, child nutrition, bus replacement, career technical education, alternative education, faculty senates, staff development and the 21st Century Learning grant for the after-school programs.

Special levy

The total estimated revenue of the special levy for Fiscal Year 2023 is $4,724,733-some $230,190 more than last year’s projected $4,494,543.

The special levy call designates $1,904,860 for employee salaries and benefits costs; $1,147,438  for critical educational programs support including alternative education, prevention resources and behavioral, academic and remedial support; $535,000 for facilities maintenance, security and capital improvements; $125,000 for  technology hardware, software, infrastructure, repair and training; $400,000 for instructional materials and supplies; and $35,000 for the combined support of the Morgan County Public Library and the  Paw Paw Public Library.

Major expenditures

Major proposed general current expense fund expenditures for the Fiscal Year 2023 are $10,848,496 for professional regular salaries, $2,590,384 for service personnel regular salaries, the $2,342,802 unfunded retirement liability, $1,661,139 for health/life insurance premiums, $1,100,650 for social security matching, a total of $1,004,829 for retirement plans, $670,000 for electricity and $600,000 for other professional services.

Other large school system expenses include $460,760 for purchased services-LEA in state, $325,214 for non-technical repair/maintenance service, $320,515 for professional supplemental salaries, $250,000 for professional substitutes, $192,500 for service personnel substitutes, $230,553 for textbooks, $226,413 for general supplies, $175,000 for diesel vehicle fuel and $149,050 for maintenance supplies.

 

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