There are still five months until Superintendent Eric Williams will present his Fiscal Year 2021 budget for the school district, but a preliminary review shows the need for about $100 million in additional local tax funding.
The School Board was briefed on the projections last week.
According to the assessment presented by Assistant Superintendent for Business and Financial Services Sharon Willoughby, expenditures are expected to increase by $123.3 million to handle enrollment growth, salary and benefit increases and program enhancements. State revenue is expected to increase by $16-27 million, depending on the General Assembly’s work on the FY 21-22 biennial budget and the update of factors used to calculate the Local Composite Index, which determines the amount of state school funding allocated to each locality.
That leaves $96-107 million to be covered by increased local tax funding.
School district planners project that enrollment will increase by 1,244 students next year, to a total of 88,000. At a cost of $15,241 per student, that amounts to a $19 million increase to cover enrollment growth.
Another $5 million will be needed to increase staffing in preparation for opening Lightridge High School next year and two elementary schools the following year—53 new fulltime equivalent positions.
The biggest increases will be $24.1 million to provide an average 2.4 percent step increase for eligible employees, $41.5 million to continue efforts to restructure the salary scale, and $12.2 million for one-time bonus and market adjustments.
Programmatic enhancements total only $14.3 million for “strategic action initiatives,” including equity programs, gifted education and security; $1.8 million for instructional programs, including computer science integration, textbooks and instructional support positions; and $5.1 million for grant funding changes.
Few of the School Board members attending last week’s briefing will be around when Williams presents his budget request on Jan. 9. Only three of the nine members are seeking re-election in November.
Under the budget review schedule outlined last week, the final vote will come on Feb. 4.
The school district’s FY 2020 operating budget totals $1.28 billion and was a 7.8 percent increase over FY 2019.