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NLS board approves budget revisions, gets survey on reductions

NEW LONDON — The New London-Spicer School Board approved revisions Monday to the 2013-14 budget that show an improved financial outlook for the district.

The revisions show a projected unrestricted general fund balance of $418,526 on June 30 of this year. The balance is a $476,209 improvement from the negative $57,683 fund balance on July 1, 2013. Donna Wilson, the district’s business manager through School Management Services, told the board that the improvement was largely due to special education funding. The district had projected special education funding, which often lags behind other revenues, conservatively because of the difficulty in pinpointing the amounts.

“It’s one of those things that is really hard to predict from year to year,” Wilson said, noting that sometimes districts are the financial beneficiaries of the intricacies of special education funding billing and payments and other times they are less fortunate when it comes to receiving special education monies.

By comparison, the budget approved by the board in June showed a projected unrestricted fund balance of $156,659. The audit of the district’s finances this fall put the balance at the negative $57,683 amount. The district has general fund revenues and expenditures of approximately $13 million per year.

The revised budget continues to show a negative balance of $469,865 in the district’s technology levy, because the district spent most of the $1.5 million voter-approved levy and is now awaiting receipt of the funds.

Wilson noted that the district will receive the last third of the levy amount in the 2015 fiscal year, which will eliminate the negative balance.

During a planning session meeting after the official board meeting, the board also reviewed survey responses from staff members, who were polled as part of the annual budget reduction process. Board chairman Robert Moller noted that there were quite a few responses that alluded to the fact that the district already has a “bare bones” budget because non-essential items have previously been eliminated.

Superintendent Paul Carlson also asked the board members to fill out the electronic survey and contribute their thoughts on budget reductions.

Carlson also noted during the meeting that he and Wilson are going to orientation classes on March 5 for the long-range financial planning program approved by the board at the Feb. 10 board meeting. The program allows for up to five-years of budget and enrollment planning.

The board also reviewed the enrollment projections for the 2014-15 school year during the planning session. Thirteen fewer students are expected to attend in the fall. There are 117 seniors graduating in the spring and approximately 110 kindergarteners staring in the fall.

Carlson noted that the preschool numbers are steady at about 110 students for the next several years.

The budget revisions, enrollment projects and survey review are all part of the budget reduction process. The district’s list of suggested cuts is expected to be presented to the board next month, for final approval later this spring.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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