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Fillmore Central expects operating deficit for next school year

Fri, Jun 22nd, 2007
Posted in Education

PRESTON - Members of the Fillmore Central School Board, along with Superintendent Myrna Luehmann, met for a special meeting on June 18 to discuss the budget for the next school year.

Luehmann explained that Special Education funding from the state has increased sizably this next year, which will help out with many programs. The kindergarten funding increased only slightly, while the legislature increased the funding formula by two percent for 2007/08 and one percent the following year. In all, when the projected expenditures and revenues were figured out, there will be a deficit of $808,108. This will be offset however, with $260,000 from the Capital Fund earmarked for construction and another $304,000 that will be reimbursed by the state and federal government for operating the Root River Day Treatment program.

"I think it's going to be very tight this next year," stated Luehmann. "And I think the following year is going to be worse." She added that it also depended on a lot of factors, such as student numbers, which are hard to predict, and are trending down every year.

Luehmann mentioned that since the Root River Education District (RRED) was dissolved, Fillmore Central will now be the fiscal agent for Special Ed. services for both Kingsland and Fillmore Central. That makes $304,000 in new expenses for staff and services, money that will come to the district from state and federal money. Luehmann stated that it shouldn't be a problem, and that everything should be covered. However, it is unknown when the money will be coming into the district.

"We really don't know how to project the Special Ed. revenue," said Darla Ebner, the Fillmore Central bookkeeper. "In the past there has been a two-year delay in funding, and we're not sure about this year."

Luehmann stated that the budget does not include any new projects going on at the school for the next year. Those projects are usually approved in August. The district was able to accomplish most of the construction projects they were hoping to do with the levy money from last year.

There was a technology grant that the district used to receive every year that has been discontinued. According to Luehmann, the amount of the grant had decreased significantly over the years, but was still enough to help the school. There are salary increases, as well as benefit and severance pay increases. Health insurance costs went up this year, due to many people retiring. Right now, when a person retires, they receive full health insurance benefits every year until they are 65, along with the same increases that working teachers receive. Luehmann spoke about putting a cap on the insurance benefit, which would save the district some money.

Other years have seen deficits this large as well, according to Luehmann, and there is generally a deficit every year. Cuts have been made in the past, and the board will have to make some decisions about where to make cuts in the next year. This issue will be discussed in more detail when the board approves the budget at their board meeting on June 25 at the high school in Harmony.

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