MOUNT GILEAD — Mount Gilead School District Treasurer Tina Gabler presented the five-year district financial forecast at the Nov. 17 School Board meeting.
A big influence this year on the projections is both the influence of COVID-19 on supplies and operation, and the uncertainty on how the pandemic may have an impact on local employment, income tax and state contributions.
“How the pandemic will influence revenue is the biggest unknown for the forecast,” Gabler said.
Gabler began with a 10 year look-back to 2010. The original .75 percent income tax is continuing since it began in 1995. She noted that it took six years for income tax revenue to recover from the recession of 2008. Income tax revenue in 2008 was $1,069,709, in 2010 it was $948,028 and by 2014 it recovered to $1,084,791.
The new .75 percent Income Tax that passed in 2019 became effective with the first collection in April 2020. The first year of 2020 will take six quarters to collect the full amount for the year. The 2020 Income Tax total of the two levies is $1,529,196.
Revenues for general property and real estate tax for 2010 was $2,760,761 and for 2020 it is $3,385,729. Restricted and unrestricted grants from the state were also detailed in the report.
Due to economic conditions in the state there is much uncertainty in how schools will be funded in the next couple of years. There were already some cuts in state funding.
Personnel recently settled a three-year wage agreement and Gabler noted that the district’s salaries for teachers and employees are at 44 percent of district expenses. She said that compares with Cardington with 48 percent, Highland 58 percent and Northmor at 39 percent. The state requires that retirement be 14 percent.
Board members Virgil Staley and Brandie Salisbury had questions about the cost of students leaving the district for open enrollment.
Superintendent Larry Zimmerman said that there are 31 more students who leave the district than come into the district. Most leave to go to other county school districts. The cost of these 31 students in open enrollment is about $200,000 per year.
Another area of expense that is unavoidable is in fees such as audits, auditor, bank, state and the Educational Service Center.
Supplies and materials is one area the district has some control over and grants have helped pay for the additional expenses due to the pandemic this year. $215,535 was received in COVID-19 Reduction in April 2020.
Future projections taking a conservative approach:
• The projection for future cash on hand is for 245 days, with the present amount at 193 days revenue on hand. The state recommends 60-90 days cash on hand for districts.
• Gabler encouraged the board to consider what future projects are needed in the district with this amount of revenue on hand projected.
• A conservative approach is recommended since full collection of income tax is unknown if there is a continued downturn in the economy.
• There is a projected decrease in state foundation payments.
• For expenses an increase in salaries is projected due to current increase in negotiations.
• The goal is for insurance to be fully funded for teachers and employees with dental and vision insurance included.
“I believe the school board members past and present have been good stewards of finances for the district,” Gabler concluded. “The district finances are stable.”
In other business:
• The board approved Shawn Boller as head bowling coach. The board approved bowling as an official sport rather than a club sport in October.