The Union School Board Monday night unanimously approved a “conservative” budget of $30.5 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Superintendent Steve Bryant noted that the budget was designed “to continue to be fiscally conservative with a strong awareness of the financial uncertainty of ever-changing economic climate, as well as changes in the state and federal funding initiatives.”

Adopted budgets have been conservative for the past several years to help increase financial stability.

The budget, which runs July 1 through June 30, reflects revenue projections of $30,567,609 which comes mainly from local sales taxes, state funding, county taxes and federal aid.

Total expenditures are projected at $33,395,336, which includes $1.2 million in bond issue monies.

District patrons passed a bond issue in April 2013 for major improvements and upgrades to buildings throughout the district. Some of that money is being carried over to complete the projects.

The budget does include minimal deficit spending, around $750,000, but the district has remained conservative enough over the past year to end the current year with about a 33.5 percent reserve fund balance.

“If we don’t deficit spend, the fund balance continues to grow,” Bryant noted, adding that the only reason for the reserve is for financial stability.

“If our cash flow stops, we can continue to operate for two to three months,” he said, adding that the deficit may be minimized as the economic status of the state and community adjust to the changing economic structure at the local, state and federal levels.

Last year, a deficit was projected, but because of some revenues coming in higher than expected and expenditures being lower than expected, the district still ended with a balanced budget and no deficit spending.

Bryant is projecting reserves to be about 29 percent for the 2014-15 budget.

The state formula funding is projected to be $10.6 million compared to $10.3 million this fiscal year.

Bryant noted that the formula is still not fully funded.

Expenditures include a step increase and base salary increase for teachers and support staff, as well as about $750,000 in instructional-related technology. Bryant said he likely will have to add another bus route, but said he is still working on routes for the upcoming school year.

“We’ve already moved steps for all staff, which is approximately a 2 percent increase,” Bryant said. “I’m going to propose $600 on the base on the teacher salary schedule and a 10 cent in addition to the step movement on the support staff schedule, which is approximately overall a 3 percent increase in salaries.”

During the last fiscal year, the budget included an average 7.5 percent pay increase in teacher salaries, with a base pay raise of $2,500.

The budget message outlined four major goals, including student safety, student achievement, appropriate educational facilities and prioritized instructional improvement. Financial decisions will be centered on accomplishing the goals, the budget message said.

Enrollment Projections

Stable enrollment projections are anticipated for the coming year, with an estimated 3,060 students in the district.

Enrollment ranged from 3,002 students during the 2008-09 school year to 3,066 in the 2013-14 school year.

No major growth is anticipated.

Grade level projections for the district are as follows:

Kindergarten, 213; first grade, 230; second grade, 265; third grade, 252; fourth grade, 244; fifth grade, 244; sixth grade, 241; seventh grade, 255; eighth grade, 218; ninth grade, 218; 10th grade, 271; 11th grade, 216; and 12th grade, 183.

2013-14 Ending Balance

Bryant also reviewed budget amendments for the current fiscal year.

The fourth revision highlights a 29.7 percent balance in the general and special funds and a $638,130 deficit. The June estimated ending balance put the general and special funds balance at 33.5 percent and left the district with a $72,430 balance on the budget.

The district projected a 97 percent tax collection rate. This year, a total of 99.3 percent was collected, increasing the revenue about $400,000.

“It floors me how well Franklin County does in collecting taxes,” Bryant said.

Prop C funds were higher than expected, as well as intangible taxes and earnings on investments. Additional teachers and a bus route also were budgeted but not needed, which accounts for some of the higher revenue.

The general fund has an estimated $8,926,913 balance.

Bryant noted that in the revision, money was only moved to the appropriate funds for bookkeeping purposes.