The Longview School Board Monday will discuss, but not vote on, possible budget guidelines for Superintendent Dan Zorn as he prepares for he’s called a “challenging budget year” in 2019-2020.
The district currently has about $9.9 million in budget reserves, but it expects that total to drop by more than 50 percent by the end of the next school year. That’s because the district will receive about $2 million less in overall funding sources next year after the state imposes a levy cap that limits how much schools can raise in local taxes.
Paired with increased costs, the district will have a difference of about $5 million between its earnings and spending. (This does not consider any additional funding the state might allocate this year after its legislative session.)
The board’s budget parameters guide Zorn other district staff as they develop an operating budget. In the past, these guidelines have defined a “sound financial position” for the district and listed the expected outcomes for spending.
Last year, the board in its parameters asked the district to save at least 6 percent of its budget for “undesignated ending fund reserve.” (Some of the money in the district’s current reserve is “restricted,” or already budgeted for future spending, which is why the total reserve balance is closer to 9 percent. However, those restricted funds cannot be spent on anything other than their designated purpose.)
The board is considering lowering that goal to only 3 percent, according to the 2019-20 parameters draft. This would allow the district to use some of its current budget reserve to make up for the spending difference.
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However, the parameters outline that the district needs to slowly increase its reserve by at least half a percent each year so it will be back at 5 percent in three years.
Also new to the proposed guidelines is making sure any necessary budget reductions have the “least impact on the quality of instruction” and “reinstating items” from “previous budget reductions” as additional funding sources become available.
The board is not expected to vote on the parameters until Jan. 28.
Also Monday the board will vote to delay the adoption of K-5 and 9-12 science materials due to “fiscal constraints,” and adopt a timeline for its November 2019 bond election, according to the board agenda.
The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the School District Administration Building on Lilac Street.