NLS approves financial report
NEW LONDON -- The undesignated general fund balance is inching upward for the New London-Spicer District, but it is a long way from the target level recommended by the district's auditor.
NEW LONDON –– The undesignated general fund balance is inching upward for the New London-Spicer District, but it is a long way from the target level recommended by the district’s auditor.
At its meeting Monday, the NLS School Board approved the 2013-14 financial report that shows the undesignated fund went from a negative balance of $58,000 in June of 2013 to $321,000 on the positive side a year later.
The report from Abdo, Eick & Meyers LLC indicates part of the “swing” was because of an increase in special education funding.
The board was cautioned to continue to “monitor its spending and make budget reductions” to prevent a reverse swing.
Superintendent Paul Carlson said NLS currently has an unassigned fund balance that’s about 2 percent of the total general fund. The goal is to have a fund balance of 17 percent, he said.
The financial report also shows the district’s assets exceed its liabilities by $20.9 million and the district’s total net position increased $1.3 million, which was attributed to revenues exceeding expenditures.
“We did very well with our budget, even though our fund balance is low,” Carlson said.
But the report advised the district to match budget reductions to its student enrollment.
Although enrollment is higher this year than expected, it’s lower now than it was four or five years ago and budget reductions “have not kept pace with declining enrollment,” according to the report.
The district’s governmental funds had a fund balance of $94,535, which is a decrease of $63,000 compared to the previous year. That will be recovered when the district receives funds from the technology levy, which was approved by voters in 2011 to collect $1.5 million over three years.
The district’s total long-term debt decreased
$1.7 million during the current fiscal year because of debt service payments.
Meanwhile, residents in the district will vote during the general election next week on a
$14.6 million building proposal that could add to the debt service.
The proposal includes construction of an auditorium, gym and fitness center at the high school and a cafetorium at the elementary school.
NLS is the only district in the area that does not have a performing arts auditorium and the district has fewer gym courts than many neighboring schools –– even than some smaller districts, according to a report presented earlier this month to the board.
The board is hoping that lobbying efforts by a coalition of schools called Schools for Equity in Education will help districts such as NLS, which have a low commercial/industrial tax base, obtain state financial assistance for building projects and technology.
Schools for Equity in Education is hoping to get legislation passed that will make it easier for property-poor districts to pass building levies by having the state carry some of the burden, which will reduce the impact to local residential taxpayers.
The state has done that with operating levies and Schools for Equity in Education wants the state to take similar action for debt service levies.
Even with equity in school funding, there are still disparities.
In a report to the NLS board, Brad Lundell, executive director of Schools for Equity in Education, said the average general education revenue in the state is $8,296 per student. He said NLS receives $7,244 per student.