School fund balances stabilized

By Meghan Gutzwiller
Times Correspondent

Just a few years ago, the Monticello school district was staring down the prospect of deep budget deficits. Student population numbers were stagnant, state funding levels were flat, inflationary costs were rising and the overall economy was underwhelming, to say the least. In 2010, superintendent Jim Johnson estimated a $2.7 million budget deficit by 2013 if all situations remained the same. To help prevent the projected deficit, the school board adjusted the budget by more than $2.2 million between 2009 and 2012.

Two years after that dire prediction, business manager Elaine DeWenter painted a much different picture when she explained the district’s financial scenario for this fiscal year and the next. The district is expecting a fund balance of $2,480,486 at the end of fiscal year 2012, which comes at the end of this month. By the end of fiscal year ’13, the projected fund balance will increase by more than an additional $315,000 to an estimated $2,796,460, though DeWenter cautioned that many factors have yet to be set in stone for FY 2013. Back at the end of fiscal year 2010, the fund balance stood at $1.2 million, less than half of what it is today.

To achieve this, the district has cut the budget and found new sources of revenue. Their financial situation has also improved because of recent growth in student numbers, and they have also received literacy funding from the state after the Legislature reallocated integration funds and a per-pupil funding bump from the state.

Between fiscal years ’12 and ’13, DeWenter explained that the community service fund would be spent down by more than $42,000 between three different segments of this fund, including general community service, early childhood family education and school readiness. She said the state looks at a district’s three-year average of its revenue, and if the school’s community service revenue is more than 25 percent more than the three-year average, it becomes excess fund balance and goes back to the state.

We want to make sure we don’t lose any money