The good news is that state per-pupil funding has improved for the coming school year in Bayfield, Finance Director Amy Lyons told the school board on June 10. The bad news it's still below the amount of per-pupil funding before the state started several years of funding cuts during the recession.
The board approved the preliminary 2014-15 budget that night. The budget year starts July 1. The budget is subject to change after district enrollment is determined in October.
In her budget message, Lyons said per pupil funding will be $7,220; better than it has been, but still $1,092 per pupil short of what full funding would be.
The district will get around $500,000 more than in 2013-14 based on a conservative estimate of flat enrollment, Lyons said, but per-pupil funding from the state will still be $1.42 million (13 percent) below what it should be. That shortfall is referred to as the "negative factor."
For the 2013-14 budget year, state funding was $1.7 million below what it would have been without the negative factor.
The district's general fund budget for the coming year totals $13.69 million.
Revenue includes $4.57 million from local taxes and $8.98 million from state funding.
Instructional spending, mainly teacher salaries and benefits, totals $7.6 million.
Support spending includes building and district administration, operation and maintenance, transportation, transfers to other funds, and various reserve allocations. Support spending totals just over $6 million, including a $1.4 million contingency reserve.
Lyons explained that that line item represents the negative factor for 2014-15, the money the district won't be getting from the state.
She expects a general fund starting balance of around $4.6 million. If all the budgeted spending happens, the general fund will end still with around $4.6 million.
Lyons said the general fund budget includes staff pay increases averaging 3.8 percent.
The budget includes costs for new health assistant and technology assistant positions discussed by the board at the same meeting, and an incentive program to keep good bus drivers in the district, Lyons said.
"Even though we got some money back from the state (for previous funding cuts), we are still $1,100 per student short of where we should be," she said. "Without the mill levy over-ride (approved by voters in 2012), we wouldn't be having these discussions, and we might be charging for transportation."
Along with the state funding cuts, district employees had several years of pay freezes. "If we gave people all their steps back and then something happened, it's just not prudent," Lyons said. "We'll do what we can." She suggested one-time payments as a way to make up some of the pay freezes, if money is available.
The capital reserve fund budget totals $726,481, with revenue including a $200,000 transfer from the general fund, $200,000 interest on invested bond money, and a starting fund balance of $326,481.
Spending includes $182,000 for roof repairs at the primary and elementary schools and for one or two new buses. Lyons said a new bus costs around $90,000.
Construction at the high school is being paid through a separate building fund with $11.9 million of bond money approved by voters in 2012.
According to Lyons's budget figures, $11.1 million of that was spent during the 2013-14 budget year just coming to an end, with just over $1 million available this year including reserved fund balance.
Also at the June 10 meeting, construction project manager Marty Zwisler reported, "Things continue to progress really well on the inside and outside of the building. Things are really moving along inside. What has really changed is our invasion of the rest of the school, the courtyard."
All the concrete was removed from the courtyard, he said, and it turned out it had not been properly reinforced. "Now it's bomb-proof," he said.
All the river rocks were removed, an irrigation system has been installed, and sod will be laid down, he said. It will make up for the grass lost to construction of the performing arts addition.
"We are retaining the existing trees and shrubs and will add more. It will present a much finer image for our school," Zwisler said. Trees that were in courtyard planters were moved to the front of the football stadium where other trees had died.
Some nice trees also have been planted by the entrance to the new baseball field, he said. All the sod is in on the baseball field. "We expect that by the end of this month, we'll be locking the gates and doors and calling this project complete. We'll go through the punch list with the contractor in the next couple weeks."
On the overall project, he said, "We're doing well with our budget, and we're tracking considerably ahead of our completion time of mid- to late September." He added, "We have all of July to blow it," but he expects to have good news at the first August board meeting.