School budget set for approval

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The Englewood School District’s proposed budget calls for spending more than $68 million for the 2013-14 school year, which includes using about $3.8 million from reserves to balance the general fund budget.

The proposed general fund budget, the money used for day-to-day operations, is almost $28.2 million. As always, the largest portion of that budget, about $22.7 million, is for salaries and benefits.

However, district revenues are expected to be about $24.5 million. Since the district is required by state law to have a balanced budget, the school board approved using about $3.8 million from the district’s undesignated reserves.

John Kvale, director of budget and finance, stated in a report that among the uses for the money from the reserves is to provide $650,000 for capital projects, to cover the cost of increases in salaries, to pay the additional cost of adding one day to the teacher contract and to provide funds for a 6 percent increase in the district contribution to the health insurance program.

“This is the second year we have used reserves to balance our budget,” said Brian Ewert, school superintendent. “The reserves are a finite source of funds and, unless there are major revenue increases, the reserves will be used up in three years, which means we would face the task of making significant cuts district-wide.”

Ewert noted if state school funding hadn’t been reduced and there hadn’t been recessions in which the state reduced the money scheduled to come to districts, Englewood’s revenues would have covered the projected costs of operating the district.

The proposed budget was presented to the Englewood school board on May 21 and the board held a public budget hearing June 4. There was no public comment, so the budget will be presented to the board for adoption at the June 18 meeting.

Kvale said the general fund is one major item in the budget, and another major is $28 million being spent on spent on construction of the new seventh- through 12th-grade campus and renovation of Englewood Middle School. The money for the construction and renovation are provided from $22 million from bond sales and $6 million from a state BEST Grant.

Like all other Colorado school districts, Englewood’s revenues for the general fund are a combination of state dollars and local taxes, with about half coming from the state and half from local taxes.

The largest portion of state money is in the form of per-pupil funding which allocates a set dollar amount for each student enrolled in the district on Oct. 1.

Enrollment has declined in Englewood for several years and, to lessen the state-funding impact, the district is allowed to use a five-year average for pupil count for the coming year.

This year, the state per-pupil funding increased by about $196, which is expected to mean, based on the five-year pupil count, Englewood will receive about $252,000 more than last year.

Superintendent Ewert stressed two other points as he talked about the proposed budget.

“The district is spending more than $1 million on the purchase of iPads that will be issued to students. That isn’t general fund money but the technology fund that was created as part of the voter-approved bond issue,” he said. “Also, the money from the school board decided, since the money from the sale of the Flood Middle School property is one-time revenue, that money should be placed in the capital reserve fund to cover unexpected building repair expenses such as a roof or boiler replacement.”