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Brighter revenue outlook may be offset by federal cuts, need to cut class size


August 03, 2005 - A healthier state economy has improved the revenue outlook for the Lindbergh School District, but the district most likely still will have to dip into its reserves to balance its 2005-2006 budget.

During a budget workshop last week, Assistant Superintendent for Finance Pat Lanane told board members he now projects the district will receive $335,000 more in revenue than originally anticipated when the Board of Education adopted the 2005-2006 budget in June.

Lanane said July 27 that his revised revenue projection is based on final, unaudited budget numbers for the past school year.

But proposed expenditure adjustments in in response to federal cuts and additional staffing needs to reduce class sizes could total $307,000.

In his presentation, Lanane noted the unaudited final numbers for the past school year show the district collected $46,974,506 in operating revenue with operating expenditures totaling $45,429,922. When the board adopted the 2005-2006 budget in June, operating revenue for the past school year was projected at $45,246,565, while expenditures were estimated at $46,332,984.

Lindbergh ended the 2004-2005 school year with a funding balance of $24.7 million, according to Lanane. Of that amount, however, only about $11 million is unrestricted. The remainder is encumbered for cash-flow funds, emergency funds, fiduciary funds and legal obligations, Lan-ane told the Call.

Based primarily on the improved state economy, along with other factors, Lanane's revised projections for the 2005-2006 school year estimate increased operating revenues of $335,000 for a total of $47,010,097, while estimated operating expenditures remain unchanged at $46,956,157.

However, two budget adjustments that will be considered Tuesday, Aug. 9, by the Board of Education could increase operating expenditures by roughly $307,000. The board-approved budget for the coming school year also provides for up to $680,000 in reserve spending, if necessary.

At the workshop, the four board members present — President Mark Rudoff, Secretary Vic Lenz, Treasurer Katie Wes-selschmidt and Barry Cooper — heard re-quests for two budget adjustments.

Nancy Rathjen, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, told board members that roughly half of the funding budgeted to help meet federal No Child Left Behind mandates had been cut by the federal government, while Rick Francis, assistant superintendent for personnel, noted that increased enrollment had resulted in some larger-than-desired class sizes at the secondary level.

Lanane said, "... My recommendation would be to look at some of these adjustments that we're asking for, but to maintain for the most part the $1.3 million expenditure reductions that we made for '05-'06 ...''

Rathjen said, "... The AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) additions that we added to the final budget were about $340,000 and these were to cover additional reading help, math help, class-size reduction help. Three of the entitlement grants — Title I, Title II and Title V — are grants that are used for supplementary programming and support for the schools and these were the ones that were lowered ... So what we're looking at is just asking for the money that would get us to where we were when we ended our budget discussion in May.

"In other words, having the amount of support for reading and math in this year and again this year is extremely important because this is the first year that we are giving the communication arts and the math test in grade levels three through eight, both tests, and not only that, but the percentages climb quite a bit significantly this year as we have to get proficient in AYP. So it's a very important year and without that support, our support has essentially been cut in two. This $170,000 that's been cut in the title funding is about half of what was given earlier for the AYP money. So the request is just to get us back to where we were,'' she said.

Francis said that projected enrollment in seventh- and eighth-grade communications arts classes at Sperreng Middle School totals 31 pupils per class.

"... Of course, this is due to the personnel reductions that we had,'' he said, noting two communication arts teaching positions were eliminated. "That concerns us, trying to meet some of our academic expectations.''

At Lindbergh High School, enrollment in 11 social studies classes is projected at 28 to 30 students, the same projected enrollment for nine biology classes.

Francis said he would like to be able to hire two full-time teachers for the middle school communications arts classes and two half-time teachers for the high school classes.

Board members had no objections to the budget adjustment requests and will formally consider them Tuesday night.

Lanane said, "... Exclusive of those decisions you made tonight, you would actually be looking at a balanced budget for next year and even slightly better than that ...''

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