by SEAN BATURA
San Marcos CISD trustees unanimously set a new tax rate last week and approved a budget for next fiscal year, which began for the school district on Sept. 1.
Trustees approved a $68,975,401 fiscal year 2012 budget and a tax rate equal to the current rate of $1.35 per $100 of taxable valuation. The budget includes $500 for each district employee except the superintendent and the assistant superintendents. The payments will cost the district about $600,000, said Mike Abild, San Marcos CISD’s assistant superintendent for business and support services. Abild said the payments are intended to offset increased health insurance costs and other cost-of-living increases.
The FY 2012 general fund budget reflects cuts totaling nearly $2.8 million due to reduced state funding from the 82nd Texas Legislature, Abild said. The district expects $2.2 million less in state funding in FY 2012 and $4 million less in FY 2013, compared to FY 2011 funding levels.
The new budget includes a surplus of $1,275,802 in the general fund. The district projects a general fund deficit of about $806,773 in FY 2013. Abild estimated the district will have $26 million in reserves next budget year.
Twenty-one personnel positions were eliminated by reduction, absorption, and attrition, though no layoffs occurred and none are planned. The elimination of personnel positions will enable about $1.2 million Abild said. These savings constitute the district’s largest budget reduction.
Trustees budgeted three new elementary teacher positions to accommodate slight enrollment growth and maintain a 22:1 student-teacher ratio in grades K-4.
Enrollment figures will not be known with certainty until perhaps a week after Labor Day because students are still enrolling, Abild said.
San Marcos CISD’s 2011 certified taxable values indicate an increase of about $71.9 million, according to the district. Combined with an increased collection rate of 99.44 percent over the previous 98.5 percent rate, the district is expected to receive $1.1 million more in property tax revenues in FY 2012.
The proposed FY 2012 budget includes 11.5 new personnel positions to accommodate the new career academies program at the high school. The new positions will cost about $277,000, Abild 9said.
Other cuts trustees made include $347,598 in general fund debt obligations, $200,000 in campus and departmental budgets related to travel, $100,000 in consulting costs, about $200,000 in administrative/clerical salaries to accommodate the 4-day summer work week, about $150,000 in general departmental budget allocations, $50,000 in subscription software costs, and a $36,000 reduction in rental costs associated with the restructuring/relocation of the district’s Family Learning Center.
“In the face of declining state funding, SMCISD will continue to experience budget pressures, particularly in the areas of benefits, utilities, insurance, and fuel,” said Abild in his Budget Message, a document he submitted to trustees. “With fewer State funds and absent additional taxing authority, it’s unlikely the district will be able to cope with rising costs and balance future budgets without further (significant) budget reductions or the use of reserves.”
Abild said interest rates will likely remain low for the foreseeable future, “with a slight upward bias.” Abild said student enrollment growth is expected to remain “modest.”
“Future debt service requirements for 2012 and later years will remain relatively constant,” Abild said in his Budget Message. “Further reductions in the District’s Debt Service Fund tax rate will largely depend on growth in taxable values.”
The district’s new budget includes general fund revenues of $56,555,271 and expenditures of $55,279,469. The district’s general fund revenues and expenditures this year will total $57,437,809, according to Abild.
The district budgeted $1,192,565 in new revenues from the federal government due to the Education Jobs Fund program, though Abild said the program will not be available in FY 2013. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced in April that Texas will receive $830.8 million under the Education Jobs Fund program.
Pursuant to the Education Jobs Fund program, the federal government allocated $10 billion to states by a formula based on population figures. States distribute their allotment to school districts based on funding formula or districts’ relative share of federal Title I funds.
The district’s new budget includes debt fund revenues of $10,372,976 and $10,049,514 in expenditures. Debt service fund revenues are $10,055,990 and expenditures are $10,044,914 in this year’s budget.
The new budget includes special revenue fund revenues and expenditures of $3,646,418. Special revenue fund revenues and expenditures are $3,560,104 in this year’s budget. Special revenue fund revenues come from local, state, and federal sources and are used for food services and facility plant maintenance and operations.
San Marcos CISD Trustee David Castillo was absent from Monday’s board of trustees meeting.