School Board Tentatively Approves Smaller Budget for 2018-2019 School Year

School Board Tentatively Approves Smaller Budget for 2018-2019 School Year
Posted on 08/02/2018
District News

The Lee County School Board just gave its tentative approval for a $1.44 billion dollar budget for the 2018-2019 school year. The spending plan is smaller than the $1.5 billion budget for last year because revenue is down and reserves are shrinking.

“We are in a position where we are going to continue to have to do more with less,” explains Chief Financial Officer Greg Blurton. “We must decrease expenditures to balance our budget.”

For the first time in years, the property tax millage rate used to calculate the state and local funding for the School District has gone down. The 1.35% decline in the tax rate is providing the district $5 million less in local contributions than last year. “The $5 million less we received this year would have been enough for a 1% raise for every one of our employees,” Blurton says.

The impact of Hurricane Irma is still being felt nearly a year later. Irma’s damages to District facilities total more than $31 million. Although the District expects to be partially reimbursed for damages through insurance and FEMA, it could take many more months, if not years. “When you combine that with our minimal increase in funding from the State, and the rising cost of healthcare, we took a substantial hit to our reserves and fund balance going forward and expect the FY19 Budget to be stressed in all areas,” says Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins.

The District employed cost savings and efficiencies in every department to balance the budget. The District has saved over $1 million in transportation costs, maintenance is being deferred, staffing levels were reevaluated and some vacant positions eliminated. The just returned efficiency audit by Gibson Consulting may also help us identify other cost saving measures.

Final budget approval is scheduled for September 11, 2018. The final numbers will change some as the 2017-2018 budget is closed and remaining funds are carried over. Grants will also come in during the school year to help the bottom line and fund specific initiatives.