Highland News Leader

Highland School District budget: More deficit spending

The Highland School District is planning for more deficit spending in the education and transportation funds during this school year, according to the recently published budget.

According to Business Manager Tim Bair, the district anticipates to spend $248,066 more than the district expects to take in this school year.

The proposed $29.5 million budget does not take into account possible pension reforms and tax caps, which are now being considered by the General Assembly. Both of these issues could have a significant impact on the budget, Bair said.

The proposed budget also does not anticipate new revenue from the changes to farmland assessments brought about by a change in state law, which could bring a significant amount of new money to the district.

The district will be transferring $200,000 from its Working Cash Fund to the Education Fund to help offset the loss in this fund. The Education Fund is projected to finish the year with a $169,037 deficit. The district uses the Education Fund to pay for teachers’ salaries and textbooks.

On the bright side, Bair said the district projects a 1.1 percent increase in property taxes this year.

“This will be the first time in four years the district has seen property taxes increase,” Bair said.

General state aid will still be prorated, 92 percent this year. But in recent years, the state has prorated state aid at 89 percent. However, the district anticipates it might lose an additional $500,000 in general state aid for next year, based on six-day enrollment numbers this year, which showed a decline of 120 students.

The Transportation Fund is projected to finish this year with a $258,762 deficit. This fund had a $695,481 balance as of July 1. The state is prorating transportation at 72 percent.

Bair said the district will repair the tracks at both Highland High School and Highland Middle School with life safety money previously awarded to the district. But, other than that, the district does not plan to make any other capital improvements at this time, he said.

Budget Hearing Set

The School Board is planning to hold a public hearing on the budget on Sept. 28. Following the hearing, the board is expected to adopt the budget.