Rockwall ISD school board passes $100.1 million budget for 2011-12

ROCKWALL — Anticipating a $15.7 million state funding cut over the next two years, the Rockwall ISD Board of Trustees passed a $101,171,531 general fund budget Thursday night, 5-0, at its board meeting and public hearing.

Two board members were unable to attend.

There were no comments from the public at the sparsely-attended, 30-minute meeting held at the RISD Administration building.

Chief Financial Officer Mike Singleton presented a budget that included $101,171,531 in the general fund, $5,098,611 in the Child Nutrition Fund and $22,675,346 in the Debt Service Fund.

He said in order to meet this budget, the district will need to access an estimated $5,570,032 from the District’s fund balance.

Singleton also noted that the proposed tax rate continues at $1.47 per $100 of valuation. This is the fifth consecutive year that the district has maintained the same tax rate.  It will officially be approved at either the August or September board meeting.

RISD Communications Director Sheri Fowler explained the fund balance is similar to a District savings account.

“The fund balance is a sort of a savings account.  In order to meet the guidelines for operating at the highest level of financial efficiency, it is recommended that school districts have approximately three months of operating costs in their fund balance.  This is very important for our bond ratings, too.”

“The three-month rule means that the district would be able to pay operating costs even if there were an interruption in funding sources,” she continued.  “Also, the district does not receive tax revenue until after the end of a calendar year.  The fund balance allows us to ‘borrow from ourselves’ to pay payroll and other operating expenses until we receive this revenue.  Many school districts who do not have healthy fund balances and actually have to borrow from banks in order to cover this time period.”

“The budget passed on Thursday evening did include a use of some of our fund balance.  However, we do have money available that is over and above the 3-month mark so the board felt this was a good use of ‘savings’ so to speak.  (This is not a precedent–we’ve done this before.)”

“Obviously, we have to continue to find additional reductions and sources of revenue enhancement because we can’t do this every year and still maintain a healthy fund balance, but in an effort to keep programs and staff, this use of fund balance was a good option for this coming fiscal year.”

Rockwall ISD expects to lose $6.4 million during the 2011-12 fiscal year and $9.3 million during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

As a result, a hiring freeze is in effect, staffing levels have been reduced by $3.2 million at the campus and administrative levels and no salary increases will be proposed for RISD employees during the coming school year.

One of the most significant decisions made was to outsource the custodial services and transportation departments. New contracts with private companies begin July 1, 2011.

Singleton also warned the Board that for 2013-14, an $8.5 million annual deficit still must be resolved.

By J.J. Smith, Publisher






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