Whitesburg KY

Board adopts $29.6 million budget; touts $700,000 in cuts

The Letcher County Board of Education approved a $29.6 million budget for the 2014-2015 school year, which includes less money for expenses than what was spent this school year.

“We’ve been really careful on what we spend,” said Brian Johnson, district finance officer.

Nearly $700,000 in expenditures has been cut during Letcher County Public Schools Supt. Tony Sergent’s first year as superintendent. Most of the savings came from attrition of administrative positions. Reductions in travel and food purchases for meetings and school events were also made.

“If you’ll look at the expenditures for next year, you can tell that we have lessened our expenditures in each category, just about, in an effort to save us some money,” Johnson told the school board at Monday night’s meeting. “We went through and made some reductions. I think we have taken care of all of our expenditures pretty good.”

For the 2013-2014 school year, the district spent $600,000 more than it took in and that money had to be taken from the “contingency fund”.

Over the last three years the beginning balance has decreased. The beginning balance for the 2014-2015 school year is projected to be $1.6 million, down $ 676,767.90 from the 2013-2014 beginning balance of $2.276,767.91. The district started the 2012-2013 school year with $2,889,383.79.

The contingency fund also began to dwindle, but with recent expenditure cuts the contingency fund has been replenished. For the 2013-2014 school year, the contingency fund totaled $660,000, which was two percent of the district’s annual budget. Johnson projects that the contingency fund for the 2014-2015 school year will be $1.3 million or 5.4 percent. State law requires districts to have two percent in the contingency fund.

“ We’re moving in the right direction,” said Board Chairman Will Smith.

For the 2014-2015 school year, the district is projected to spend $280,000 more than it will get in revenue.

Sergent said the district is getting closer to its goal of getting the beginning balance minus the contingency fund to equal zero.

“We’re getting there,” said Sergent. “We are well on our way. Obviously, we don’t want to make money. We’re here for kids. We want to spend money on kids so we want to spend what we bring in.”

The tentative budget includes a state-mandated one-percent raise for all district employees, $200,000 in step raises and rank changes and $75,000 in teacher retirement. The board is set to pay $129,000 to Kentucky Insurance School Board Trust (KSBIT), the liability insurance that went bankrupt. Johnson said the budget includes $320,000 for diesel fuel, $191,000 to purchase two school buses and $46,000 for a technology match.

For the third year in a row, the board has agreed to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision.

The state allocated $80,000 that the district can use to purchase textbooks.

Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) allocations have increased from the previous year. The district received $14.4 million in 2013-2014 and is projected to get $15,289,608 for the coming school year.

State law requires school boards to approve a tentative budget by the end of May.

Board Member Dr. Sam Quillen, Jr. said during the board meeting that he is proud of the job the finance department and Sergent have done.

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