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Board approves $31.4M budget for 2013-14 school year
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

July 22. 2013 6:00AM
The Brandon Valley School District will take in less revenue than it will spend in the 2013-14 school year.

But district administrators aren’t alarmed, as the deficit-spending budget has been in the works for some time.

“Some of the red ink that’s in there has been planned for years,” Superintendent Dave Pappone said at the annual budget hearing on July 8. Pappone cited the pension fund, which was intentionally built up for “baby boomer” retirements now taking place. More than a dozen members of the teaching staff resigned at the end of this school year, and several more are anticipated in 2013-14, he said.

The district’s special education fund also needs to be “spent down” so the district isn’t “penalized,” he said. School districts are allowed 25 percent in special ed fund reserves, which Brandon Valley is expected to surpass this year, despite levying the minimum amount.

Business manager Paul Lundberg told the board that he has no problems with any of the fund balances, despite some of the negative numbers.

“I’m comfortable with the numbers we’re seeing right now,” he said.

The general fund, where the biggest bulk of the red ink is, Pappone said, is due to one-time money the state gave to school districts last session. The money was receipted in one fiscal year and will be paid out the following year.

The board approved $19,140,000 in general fund revenues, and $19,375,000 in expenses. Instruction costs are $11,649,100 (60.1 percent) of the $19.3 million in general fund expenses. Support services are tagged at $7,101,600 (36.7 percent), and co-curricular expenses total $624,300 (3.2 percent).

Revenue for the general fund comes from local taxes and sources, county apportionment, state and federal monies.

In late May, the district’s projected capital outlay fund showed a negative balance. Lundberg said the fund is now balanced. “That was accomplished because district valuations are up from what was budgeted and some projects came in under budget,” he said.

The Capital Outlay budget was set at $3,845,000. Facility improvements ($1,367,500 or 37 percent) and instructional programs ($1,167,100 or 28 percent) consume the largest portion of the budget.

The large expenses in this budget are tagged to the planned technology upgrades that include wireless access in all of the district buildings and the first phase of placing a digital device (tablet) in the hands of all teaching staff and students.
The technology plan is being implemented in phases. “We’re slowing down the implementation of the plan as proposed because it gives us more time to identify how instructional technology can be used in how we redefine how we do school here in Brandon Valley,” Pappone explained earlier this year.
The capital outlay budget is also allocating money to improve building security. Secure entrances are being planned for all four elementary schools, including some additional video surveillance in district buildings.
The special ed fund also shows a negative $275,000. Again, the negative fund balance doesn’t alarm administrators, as expenditures of 11.9 percent or $461,000 were increased over last year. The fund also includes a fund balance penalty of approximately $100,000 that will be realized this school year, Lundberg said.

To help out the negative balances, Lundberg said property valuations came in 5.5 percent higher than last year.

“We’re getting back on the right track – I like where that’s going,” he said. “And I think it will continue.”

The district’s budget also hinges on student enrollment numbers, which are recorded on the last Friday of September.

“The budget looks very good if we make the enrollment increase we’re projecting,” said Pappone.

Administrators estimate an 85-student increase for the 2013-14 school year.

The Brandon Valley Board of Education approved a $31.4 million budget for the 2013-14 school year. Challenger file photo

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