Washington High School: Home of the Blue Jays

The Washington School Board Wednesday night adopted a $56.8 million spending plan for the 2018-19 school year.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer noted the largest allocation in spending — 64.5 percent — is dedicated to wages and benefits for all staff.

The budget was approved on a 5-0 vote with board members Trish Mitchell and John Freitag absent.

Missouri public schools are required to adopt their budgets by June 30 of each year.

The board previously held a budget workshop to review the plan in detail. Meetings also were held with other school officials.

VanLeer, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brendan Mahon and Accounting Director Robin Kluesner presented the budget Wednesday night and answered questions.

Expenditures

The new budget has estimated annual expenditures of $56,833,880. The biggest portion of the expenses is devoted to salaries.

VanLeer noted that more than half of the total budget is allocated to human resources.

A breakdown of expenses by all funds is as follows:

Teachers — $29,042,495, 51.1 percent.

General Fund (which includes some salaries) — $17,869,153, 31.45 percent.

Capital Projects — $2,738,507, 4.82 percent.

Student Activities Fund — $900,000, 1.58 percent.

Debt Service Fund — $4,314,733, 7.59 percent.

Bond Issue — $349,863, 0.62 percent.

Food Services — $1,615,129, 2.84 percent.

The budget reflects a 2.89 percent average pay increase for staff and $300 boost to the base pay, plus step and lateral movements on the salary schedule; a 6 percent increase in utilities; a 3 percent increase in transportation per the contract with First Student; an additional school resource officer and increase in the cost-share split with the Washington Police Department; and $132,392 for a transportation hardship tuition for transfer students in St. Albans.

Revenue  

Total revenue for 2018-19 is projected to be $54,186,911, with 74.45 percent coming from local funds.

State funding makes up just 15.11 percent of the revenue. 

A breakdown of revenue by fund is as follows:

Local — $40,341,663, 74.5 percent.

County — $1,726,300, 3.19 percent.

State — $8,186,014, 15.11 percent.

Federal — $3,254,267, 6 percent.

Other — $678,667, 1.25 percent.

VanLeer noted the district continues to operate well despite receiving little state funding. Because the district is largely funded through the local tax effort, she said it’s important to have healthy reserve balances.

“Our tax levy remains one of the lowest of districts comparable in size, demographics, and as compared to surrounding and metropolitan area schools,” she said.

The budget assumes an average 2 percent growth in assessed value. School officials said final assessed valuation data isn’t available yet, so changes in revenue projections will occur throughout the year.

Close Out Old

Before approving the new spending plan, the board approved a fourth budget revision officially closing the 2017-18 budget, which had a surplus of approximately $23 million (all funds combined) and a reserve balance of 36.12 percent.

The ending balances for all funds for 2017-18 were $78.3 million in revenue and $55.3 million in expenditures.

VanLeer noted the large surplus was due to the bond issue being refunded during the year.

“Timing of proceeds, project completion and payments all play a role as we follow accounting rules and prepare the books,” she explained.

The ending balances for operations only, not including debt service and capital, were $47.2 million in revenues and $46.9 million in expenses with a surplus of $355,950.

VanLeer said the new budget reflects a deficit of $2,646,968 (all funds combined) and an approximate 32.15 percent ending reserve balance.

“However, the goal is to end each fiscal year with a balanced budget,” she said, through conservative budgeting and plans to monitor and control expenses.

“We always work to align our budget to our priorities in the most responsible manner possible,” she added.

VanLeer said the board will hold a work session to analyze bonding capacity, building needs and debt service levy options prior to setting the tax rate at its August meeting.

The district budget can be viewed online at www.washington.k12.mo.us.