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While still in the works, Lancaster County School District officials say the forecast for this year’s budget is looking good.
During the school board’s March 27 meeting, school district Finance Director Tony Walker said the district is in good financial shape as the fiscal year draws to a close, with both general-fund spending and revenue in line, or better, than expected.
Last year’s general-fund budget for day-to-day operations totaled $70.8 million.
Nearly two years after state budget woes forced the district to cut jobs, Walker said this year’s tax collection, both on the state and local level, has improved significantly, which is good news for the district.
“That’s a sign, for us, anyway, that the economic climate is beginning to improve,” Walker said. “We’re expecting to come out ahead this year compared to what we anticipated.
“We’ve been saving on our expenses and everything we save this year can go into next year’s budget.
“It’s been a long time since things have been looking up.”
According to Walker, through February, the district had received 91.35 percent, or $22.09 million, of the $24.1 million expected from local general-fund revenue sources budgeted for fiscal year 2011-12.
Through that same period, the district has received $29 million, or 62.53 percent of the $46.6 million it had budgeted from state sources, he said.
As of the end of February, the district had allocated a total of 60.62 percent of its budget, or $42.9 million. That leaves the district with a balance of about $27.8 million for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
Walker told board members the district’s schools and departments have all submitted their budget requests for this year, which district officials will be reviewing in the lead up to budget finalization in June.
LCSD Superintendent Dr. Gene Moore said the last hurdle is finding out how much the state will contribute, an amount known as “base student cost.”
Last year, the district received an unexpected base student cost of $1,788 per student, $158 more than the year before. In comparison, the 2008 amount was $2,578.
The funding, determined by negotiations between the state House and Senate, is usually not available until just days before budget deadlines.
“Obviously, we have to wait and see what the state is going to give us,” Moore said. “But we’ll have a budget already working.”
Summer school fee remains the same
During the meeting, the board also approved this year’s schedule of summer school fees. Based on principal feedback and last year’s summer school expenditures, the board recommended the fees remain the same. For high school students, the fees are $250 to retake courses, $150 for recovering content and $350 for out-of-district students. The flat rate for middle school students is $100.