OUR SCHOOLS

Schools spending called “positive but cautious”

skinney@keynoter.comSeptember 7, 2013 

The Monroe County School Board on Tuesday approved a 2013-14 budget that Director of Finance Jim Drake described as “positive but cautious.”

The board unanimously approved the balanced spending plan at the final of three required public readings in a 22 minute session at Marathon High School.

Drake projects matching revenue and expenses at $84.5 million. The adopted 2012-13 budget has revenue of $80.1 million and $79.5 million in spending.

The adopted tax rate is $3.68 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The current rate is $3.66 per $1,000. That means the owner of a $300,000 home paid $1,098 in school taxes this year. With increased property values, that same homeowner can expect to pay $1,158 next fiscal year.

Drake also noted a $6 million unassigned fund balanced: “It’s money to help the district handle any inopportune items,” he said.

Superintendent Mark Porter said the fund balance “came in slightly higher than we projected. We are confident…and intend that our fund balance will demonstrate an increase over the next 12 months and that will come about, again, through conservative budgeting and deploying that budget.”

Also included in the budget is a Legislature-mandated $1.4 million raise pool —that’s $1.3 million in local tax dollars and $100,000 from the state. How that money gets divided is subject to ongoing collective bargaining with the United Teachers of Monroe union.

Board Chairman Andy Griffiths provided a breakdown of the $84.5 million in expenses: 74 percent goes to personnel; 11 percent to the Keys’ six public charter schools; 3 percent to energy; 2 percent to supplies.

“The other 10 percent is ‘other’ and purchase services,” Griffiths said. “There’s not a lot we can do about,” the lion share of costs. “In the future we should really focus on that 10 percent.”

Although never adopted until September, school district budgets take effect on July 1.

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