The Edmond Sun

November 7, 2013

Difficult decisions will have to be made in school budget

Heather Moery
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — The Edmond Board of Education approved the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget at Monday’s meeting despite lower revenue and less state aid than anticipated.

According to the budget report given by Lori Smith, Chief Financial Officer with Edmond Public Schools, the general fund budget approved totaled $141.7 million with an estimated 2014 ending general fund balance revenue at 6 percent, 0.2 percent less than expected in October’s preliminary budget report. The school district will receive over $300,000 less in revenue than initially anticipated.

The general fund balance is projected to be $7.8 million for 2014. General fund balances for fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013 were significantly higher with totals of $13.7 million in ‘11, $18.6 million in ‘12 and $15.4 million in ‘13.

Money for the 2013-2014 general fund revenue is projected to be provided by 42.3 percent from state funding sources and 44.2 percent local funding sources, compared to 2000-2001when funds accounted for 59.1 percent from the state and 30.3 percent locally. County, federal and “other” remained close in those comparisons.

The building fund approved was $13.1 million. The child nutrition fund approved was $10.8 million.

Smith also reported that the school district will receive over $387,000 less in state aid compared to October’s preliminary budget.

In addition, Smith reported that the state aid revenue from teacher index would be $0 for 2014 because the school district’s average fell below the state average for teachers’ education levels and experience index. Compared to recent years, revenue totals were $1.1 million in 2010, $1.2 million in 2011, over $975,000 in 2012 and over $500,000 in 2013.

Smith presented the school board with a line graph representation of how the school district’s student population has been steadily increasing since 2004, yet state aid per student has been steadily declining. In 2009, state aid per pupil was $1,910, however, the estimated amount for 2014 is $1,408.

Common education’s share of total appropriations also continues to fall, going from 38.2 percent in 2004 to 33.8 percent in 2014.

Smith said all these numbers show that “education is becoming less and less a priority statewide.”

Despite the decreased revenue, Smith did report that Edmond Public Schools will receive some increase in state aid when pertaining to the school district’s bilingual student count, which increased by 283 students and will bring in an additional $191,000 in state aid from previously expected. Smith said one factor that contributed to this growth was that officials at the district discovered that if a student primarily spoke a language at home other than English, then the student would be counted as bilingual.

Smith also showed that basic state aid appropriations were ever-so-slightly increasing at around $1.8 billion, which is state aid for all school districts. In 2009, state aid appropriations were slightly above the $2 billion mark. In the slide, Smith also added that by fiscal year 2013, the Oklahoma Rainy Day Fund had been restored to $535.2 million. The fund was fully depleted in 2011.

At the end of her presentation, Smith mentioned a list of items that could mean more or less money for the school district, including the mid-term adjustment in December, which could change state aid factor rates up or down.

Last year’s mid-term adjustment reduced factors $4.60. The factor increase, which would be needed to be able to pay the $200 certified stipend and help reach a fund balance of 6.5 percent as per negotiations, would be $32.87.

In a later interview, Smith said although the state aid factor will be $4 higher than the previous year, the school district expects a total decrease in state aid because of how the state formula deducts for local revenue growth.

As stated in the agenda, costs associated with the opening of Frontier Elementary School is just one of many contributing factors to financial restraints this year as well.

As reported in The Edmond Sun in October, Dr. David Goin, Superintendent with Edmond Public Schools, said, “In the absence of considerable support from the state legislature in the coming session, it is very likely that going into fiscal year 2014-’15, we will be faced with difficult decisions with regard to budget matters.”

Kemp Cole, School Board Vice President who represents District 5, was absent at Monday’s meeting.