If needed, the Klamath Falls City Schools can hire up to 2.5 teachers this fall and adopt $1 million in technology upgrades at the district, according to the budget adopted on Monday night by school board members.
City Schools adopted its $63 million budget for the first year of the 2019-20 biennium, which has a positive ending balance of approximately $1,342,322, operations director Daymond Monteith. The district is able to keep contingency funds to hire upwards of two-and-a-half teachers this fall, if needed. and also plans to hire a secretary and a college, career and communication coordinator.
“We allocated a million dollars of that ($1.3 million) ending fund balance/beginning fund balance depending on which year you’re talking about and identified that for technology upgrades for next year,” Monteith said.
While the proposed budget topped $58 million, approximately $4.84 million less than the adopted budget, Monteith clarified that accounting nuances of budgeting make it look like more of an increase than it is. In reality, Monteith said the district adopted a budget just $1.3 million more than the previous year’s budget.
“When you do a transfer from one fund to another, it appears that there’s more revenue but there’s not,” Monteith said, adding that the reason for that is money transferred from the General Fund must be shown as an expense.
Ending the past school with a positive end balance is linked to a number of things, Monteith said. Lower than anticipated costs costs for insurance, and more employees utilizing a high-deductible insurance plan as well as employee-only versus family insurance topped the list of factors.
“We were fortunate this year that our resources were greater than our needs and so we were able to make some additions and find some investments,” Monteith said.
Of the approximately $1.3 million in additional revenue, there is approximately $342,000 in additions to the budget as proposed, which include the contingency for teaching positions.
While Monteith said the district estimates 2,955 students this fall, it’s always a toss up come the first day of classes.
“You never know what’s actually going to happen in September,” Monteith said, who formerly served as principal at Ponderosa Middle School. “Enrollment projections based on this time of the year, but it’s not uncommon, especially in some of our schools, to have 14 more second-graders show up in September than you were anticipating. And if that happens, oftentimes it requires that we add a new teacher in September that we weren’t planning for.”
“We did the same thing at the high school or at six through 12 — we were able to budget for a contingency position in case something happens that’s unexpected.”
The district was down by 67 students during the past school year due to families moving outside the district for various reasons.
“Any of our staffing reductions (proposed or enacted) weren’t do to budgeting necessarily, they’re due to enrollment changes,” Monteith said. “We want to make sure that our staffing matches our enrollment. Unfortunately, if enrollment goes down, you have to look at decreasing your staffing as well so that there’s a match and what we always hope, is our enrollment goes up so that we can be adding staff.”
Monteith said the first year of the biennium is always the most difficult to formulate the budget because of the amount of estimating involved.
“Often times we don’t know what the state’s school budget’s going to be in the first year of the biennium, this year we do,” Monteith said. “Even though the budget hasn’t passed through the Legislature, all indications are that state school funding is going to be at $9 billion.”
“We have signed contracts with all of our labor groups so we know what all our employee costs are going to be next year,” he added. “The worst case scenario is when you don’t know what your state school revenue’s going to be because the Legislature hasn’t announced the budget, and you’re still negotiating a contract.
Although this year, costs associated with PERS are up 5 to 10%, Monteith said the district is “pretty confident” in revenue and “very confident” in expenses.
Monteith said Senate Bill 1037 aims to minimize cost increases for school districts associated with PERS, and anticipates action from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown possibly as early as this or next week.