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School district optimistic about upcoming budget

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By Reece Murphy

While still in the works, Lancaster County School District officials say the forecast for this year’s budget is looking good.

Tony Walker, the district’s finance director, said at the school board’s March 27 meeting the district is in good financial shape as the fiscal year draws to a close. Walker said both general fund spending and revenue are in line, or better, than expected.

Last year’s general fund budget for day-to-day operations totaled $70.8 million.

Nearly two years after state budget woes forced the district to cut jobs, Walker said this year’s tax collection – both on the state and local level – has improved significantly, which is good news for the district.

“That’s a sign, for us, anyway, that the economic climate is beginning to improve,” Walkers said. “We’re expecting to come out ahead this year compared to what we anticipated.

“We’ve been saving on our expenses and everything we save this year can go into next year’s budget,” he said. “It’s been a long time since things have been looking up.”

Walker said through February, the district had received 91.35 percent, or $22.09 million of the $24.1 million expected from local general fund revenue sources budgeted for 2011-12 fiscal year, which runs July 1 to June 30.

Through that same period, the district has received $29 million, or 62.53 percent of the $46.6 million it had budgeted from state sources, he said.

As of the end of February, the district had allocated a total of 60.62 percent of its budget, or $42.9 million. The amount leaves the district with an about $27.8 million balance in which to finish off the fiscal year.

Walker told board members the district’s schools and departments have all submitted their budget requests for the upcoming school year, which district officials will be reviewing in the lead up to budget finalization in May.

LCSD Superintendent Dr. Gene Moore said the last hurdle is finding out how much the state will contribute, an amount known as “base student cost.”

Last year the district received an unexpected base student cost of $1,788 per student, which was $158 more than the year before. However, by comparison, the per student amount was $2,578 in 2008 amount.

The funding, determined by negotiations between the state House and Senate, is usually not available until days before budget deadlines.

“Obviously we have to wait and see what the state is going to give us,” Moore said. “But we’ll have a budget already working.”

Board approves summer school fees 

The board approved this year’s schedule of summer school fees. Based on principal feedback and last year’s summer school expenditures, the board recommended the fees remain the same. For high school students, the fees are: $250 to retake courses, $150 for recovering content and $350 for out-of-district students. The flat rate for middle school students is $100.

 

Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151