Monday, October 13, 2014

Budget Basics / Budget Cuts Needed

Although the school year has just begun, some of us in the district office are beginning to build a budget for next school year.   The process takes months with numerous opportunities for input from stake holders.

Here are some basics regarding the Calvert County Public Schools budget for this school year.

Total Unrestricted funds:             $200,000,000

58% of this total comes from the county and 40% comes from state.  The other 2% is local with a small amount of federal dollars included.

Unrestricted funds means money that is flexible to use as we need it.  We receive other funds from some grants and federal dollars that are restricted to certain purposes so we don’t include that money when planning for general expenditures.    

Our present budget was built using $2.6 million dollars from our reserves (savings account).  That is, we are and have been for a few years, spending more than we take in.  That’s called deficit spending.

On a daily basis I hear from folks in this community who want us to spend more money.

·         Teachers would like a raise

·         Support staff would like a raise

·         Bus drivers would like a raise

·         Class sizes too large – hire more teachers

·         Etc.

I would like to be able to do some of those things, but first I believe we must live within our means.  So, if next year we are to build a budget without taking from our reserves (if we have any left) we must cut our spending by $2.6 million.   I would also like to have at least $3 million to provide raises to our employees.  Assuming there will be no additional money coming our way, we must therefore plan to cut $5.6 million from our current spending plan for next year.

Of each dollar in our budget, almost 85 cents is spent on salary and fixed charges (SS, insurance, Medicaid, retirement, etc).  It is impossible to make any significant reductions in our budget without reducing the number of employees.

Not an easy task, reducing employees to reduce costs and provide pay raises for those who are left.  I’m open to suggestions.