Surplus, Adequacy Funding Reviewed by School Board

Londonderry School District Business Administrator Peter Curro discussed with the school board the Fiscal Year 2013 financial report. “I remind everyone that this is unaudited,” Curro said at the board’s Tuesday, July 23 meeting. “The auditors arrive on Aug. 12, so these numbers will change. First close posted a surplus to the district of $990,750. That’s a combination of the revenues coming in higher and expenditures coming in at about $700,000 under budget.

There’s still one more payroll at this time, which is mainly for summer help that’s not encumbered and substitutes that are not encumbered.” Curro said requisitions and purchase orders are closed. “Revenue will remain open up until the time we post with the auditors,” he said. When payroll is done, revenues are passed out slightly higher at $245,000 to $252,000.” Curro said.

Curro said expenditures dropped to the $700,000 level and will come back up as they start closing off the open purchase orders. “All said and done, the surplus to the district at the year end will be somewhere around $987,000,” he said. “Just to remind everybody where the $700,000 came from – the unbudgeted unforeseen premium holiday credit that we got from the health insurance of about $300,000, the savings of staff turnover, and the energy utility for the group of about $100,000 under budget also.

“I want to remind everybody that this will be the first time that the district can retain surplus,” he added. “The voters agreed with the board and allowed us to retain under certain parameters certain amounts. My philosophy of retaining surplus or retaining unassigned balance would be to use the revenues that create a surplus. My idea is we asked the voters for a dollar amount for the operating budget, and through whatever savings and administrative support and future support, we didn’t need all of that $750,000, so that will go back as revenue to the tax rate.”

He said that he couldn’t give an exact dollar amount and noted there will be “a whole bunch of decisions that will be made at tax rate time. “I passed you a revenue surplus of $252,000, so my idea would be whatever the revenue surplus is at the end of the year, that would be the amount that gets retained and whatever expenditures come under budget would go back as revenue to offset next year’s tax rate,” Curro said.
Asked about expected state adequacy funding, Curro responded, “Up until this year, your adequacy number was based on enrollment of two years ago, so they would tell us, your adequacy grant for the coming adequacy grant year is $13 million (hypothetically) and that was a hard number.

This year is the first time that the legislature said that they want numbers for the upcoming budget season based for the year that just ended. I can tell you the reason for that was someone in the legislature recognized that enrollments are dropping.” Curro said what’s going to happen this year is that when they set the tax rate in mid October, “they will tell us that the estimated adequacy will be $12.7 million when we had budgeted for $13.5 million.”

The final adequacy grant amount won’t be released until the middle to the end of November, when the district’s tax rate and revenues have already been set, Curro said, noting the difference between what was budgeted and what was realized would have to be “adjusted somehow.” Board member John Robinson said that seven years after Londonderry won a lawsuit about educational funding, “the dollar number per student is still the same, no change to recognize the increase in costs, increase in costs of education, increase in costs of technology, we’re still getting the same number from the state and being told to be happy with it.”

Curro said it was worse in that they couldn’t “guarantee us that number before we set the tax rate.”
Board member Steve Young said that they “are playing a shell game to take away money in areas that the court won’t enforce, such as retirement assistance to us.” Young said in his estimation, the tax rate will increase a dollar. “Now that’s $400 on a $400,000 home. So when that has to be paid, I think it’s going to surprise a bunch of people,” Young said.

Curro also said that regarding the North School re-funding action the district was trying to accomplish, the rates were still not favorable to the district. “This process can remain open for six months. We’re ready to go once that window becomes available and meets the law requirement, If it doesn’t, it’s no cost to us. The margin was tight, the window was tight and there was a chance to make a quick $150,000, but the window closed quicker than the experts thought,” Curro said.

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