Unknowns hinder school budgeting process

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 05:40 PM

The 2013-2014 Union County Public Schools budget is beginning to take shape, though some key figures are still unknown. 

The district has not received state planning allotments yet and there is uncertainty about the federal budget because of the potential sequestration. 

The sequestration could potentially impact the school system by 7.5 to 8 percent, Chief Financial Officer Dan Karpinski said at a Friday morning finance committee meeting, according to what he heard most recently. 

Superintendent Mary Ellis told the committee the sequestration cuts could hurt the exceptional children program and the planned academies. 

“Those are two critical pots of money for us to do things for children,” Ellis said. 

Karpinski shared an e-mail from the state Department of Public Instruction about the sequestration which said that states should expect to see significant, though smaller than initially thought, reductions to their funding if the sequestration is not averted.

With regard to the state funding, Karpinski said he does not expect a lot from the state this year. 

The school board set forth a calendar where they would present an approved budget to the Union County Board of Commissioners by April 15, a month before the May 15 deadline. 

However, with so many pieces of information missing, there is a concern about being able to present a final budget. 

“My concern is that we are rushing this process,” Board member Sherry Hodges said at the meeting. 

Hodges said she was told by someone in the legislature that the state will not do much budgeting until they receive the April tax revenues. 

Karpinski could not assure the committee he would have a completed budget by March, but would update them at the Feb. 27 meeting before deciding whether or not to present a budget to the board at the March meeting. 

Board member Kevin Stewart said they can move forward with the capital recommendation with a finance committee approval and present the capital projects and technology budget in March. 

For this 2013-2014 school year, the school board is asking for an $2.7 million increase in the county appropriation. 

The increase would cover school resource officers for middle schools along with increases in utility costs, asbestos removal, insurance and other costs. 

Some of the items on the proposal are blank because it is unknown what the state will request from the schools for items like pay for performance, retirement funds, unemployment insurance and other costs.