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Posted: 06/25/14

State budget does little
to better RCS budget

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Fiscal numbers from the state resulted in few improvements to Romeo Community Schools' $48.4 million budget.
       The Board of Education voted 5-0 for the 2014-15 preliminary budgets, which may result in nearly emptying the district's fund balance.
       Vice-president Chris Giancarli and Secretary Joe Fortuna were not present for the June 16 meeting.
       Executive Director of Business Affairs David Massoglia said with the approval of the state's budget by the House and Senate, the district will receive a $50 per-pupil increase to its foundation allowance.
       "It's generally worse than the governor's proposal, so it's going to have financial pressures on the district coming next year," he said.
       The increase equates to about $120,000 extra for the district, which does little when it's facing an increase in healthcare costs of $371,000.
       The district's 2014-15 budget uses an estimated loss of 100 students, resulting in a $770,000 loss in revenue when using the $7,500 per-pupil figure.
       Massoglia said within the $50 per pupil is a small increase to the MPSERS payment, but this is off-set by retirement rate increases.
       He said performance incentives have decreased by $40 per pupil, and the district is paying for salary and step increases totaling $400,000.
       "This budget includes less net revenues for the district, again, from the previous year," he said.
       In an attempt to shorten the gap of revenues over expenditures, the board approved of $533,480 in reductions in May. The reductions included two high school teachers for $150,000 by reducing class offerings, two elementary teachers from Amanda Moore Elementary ($150,000), one special education teacher ($75,000) and 4.75 full-time equivalent special education teacher aides ($85,000).
       With these cuts, preliminary budgets show the district can expect expenditures to be over by $2.6 million if nothing else is done. This would reduce the fund balance to less than $300,000 after paying the difference.
       "Right now it includes taking the entire fund balance and bringing it to zero," he said.
       If enrollment doesn't decrease, expenditures would be $1.3 million over revenue, and the fund balance would be down to roughly $2 million.
       Massoglia said the budget will remain where it is, so updates won't be necessary until key information like a student count is available for forecasts. The student count takes place in October.
       Not including the most recent reductions, the district has cut $14.9 million in the past 11 years.
       Outside of the meeting, Massoglia said with the state's numbers in place, the district will likely have to look at further cuts next year.
       "The bottom line for the district is it's less money than we currently have for next year," he said.


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