The WCSD Surprise

The Warren County School District’s board of directors received a multi-million-dollar surprise at its special meeting Wednesday.

And the surprise was a good one.

The sources were varied, but the result was $4.2 million in the district’s fund balance.

According to Business Services Director Jim Grosch, one of the main factors was a philosophical change – “a new perspective on spending” – that resulted in the tightening of some financial belts.

Over seven expenditures areas – contracted services; building expenses and maintenance contracts; communications, transportation, charter tuition; supplies; instructional equipment and equipment replacement; dues, fees, and other; and debt, athletics, contingency – the district spent $1,449,901 less than expected.

The district also benefited from a number of staff changes and unpaid leaves, as well as changes to employees’ health benefits status, that resulted in payroll and benefits savings of $1.6 million.

Grosch bundled another group of revenues that add up to $1.18 million.

Intermediate Unit 5 surprised the district with a reimbursement of $533,000. Projected revenue from the U.S. Forest Service was $125,000 short of the actual number and property tax collections were strong for the year, resulting in $250,000 more than expected. Impact aid of $125,000 was not anticipated and the required payment to PSERS was $150,000 less than expected.

Those factors add up to a little over $4.2 million, providing the school board some wiggle room to avoid raising taxes for the 2013-2014 school year without making further cuts to staff and programs.

The board, with administration’s encouragement, committed almost two-thirds of the anticipated $9 million fund balance. They set aside $1.27 million for PSERS retirement benefit payment for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016; $780,256 to increased medical benefit costs for 2014-2015; $600,000 for textbook replacement in 2014-2015; $500,000 each for technology/infrastructure replacement 2014-2015 and contingencies; $78,879 brought in from scrap recovered in the Beaty-Warren Middle School project and $12,095 from scrap from the Eisenhower K-12 project to technology; and $1.4 million to capital improvements.

That leaves an anticipated uncommitted fund balance of more than $3.4 million on a budget of $68 million.