I don't think it's a major secret that one of this year's big issues will be figuring out how and where local government will find the coin to make up the school system's $7 million shortfall, stemming from the end of the federal stimulus dollars.
That amount doesn't take into consideration another couple of million (I'm guessing about $4 million) in natural growth that the school budget also will need.
And, I'm not going to mention the county's financial increases – pension contributions, employee raises, etc.
Just here to talk about the school system and where they can find $7 million.
Because I found $7 million. Yup. Sure did.
I'm not sure if it's good or not, but it certainly hasn't been discussed yet. Strange really. Because it's right there in the budget. But, if the school system is like me, then it would rather spend someone that isn't their own.
Anyhoo, let me explain where I found the scratch.
If you click right smack here and jump to page 27 you'll see that in the school system's adopted Fiscal Year 2011 budget, officials planned to use $2.9 million from the “fund balance.” That's fancy talk for rainy day reserve tank by the way.
You'll note also on that same page, officials expected the balance on June 30, 2011 to have a little more than $17.1 million in it.
Guess what? Yup. It's got more than $17.1 million in it.
So, click right smack here on the recently released County Annual Financial Report, or CAFR.
It takes a second to load, but scroll on down to page 202 of the document where you'll find the balance sheet for general purpose school spending. Or whatever.
Anyhoo, check out that “unassigned fund balance” as of the end of this most recent fiscal year (June 30, 2011).
It's a cool $27.1 million.
You see, it started at about $20 million and should have dropped to about $17.1 million. (Remember the first thing I had you click on?) Instead it jumped.
Well, check out the next page (203 for those not keeping up) and you'll see that revenues from 2010 to 2011 rose from around $368.7 million to about $380.3 million.
Meanwhile, expenditures only slightly increased from 2010 to 2011 ($367.2 million to $370 million).
Keep in mind that the schools were budgeted at $378.7 million, so, overall, officials spent $11 million less than budgeted.
Not bad. The school system now has some flexibility. Credit goes to them for holding down costs or whatever.
But, there's the $7 million. Now granted, it's a recurring cost, so they'd have to figure out something for 2013-2014.
But, this certainly looks like it could be a start.