The preliminary budget projects a $3.66 million shortfall, which would be made up by dipping into the system’s $17 million reserve fund.
Last year, the school board authorized Lembeck to use $3.4 million in reserves if needed, but because tax revenues have been favorable, the system doesn’t anticipate having to do that after all, said Erin Franklin, the school district’s finance director.
“We budgeted an 8 percent decrease in tax revenue (for FY2012),” Franklin said. “It’s coming in at more like a 3 percent decrease. We went on the information we had at the time from the tax assessor.”
For the new budget year, which spans July 1 to June 30, Lembeck has also proposed spending $1.3 million to give a 2 percent step increase in compensation for all permanent employees.
And rather than cutting any classroom teachers, Lembeck anticipates hiring about 13 on top of the 560 already employed. The new hires are needed to help manage an anticipated 450-student increase, which would put enrollment at about 8,600.
This is also the 13th year that the 17.97 millage rate for maintenance and operations has not been raised, she said.
Other new hires would include five IT positions at a cost of $235,475, in addition to a part-time staffer to manage the school information system for $47,095. Those additional costs would be offset by eliminating the 8.5 second-grade paraprofessional positions.
“The growing need for tech support in the schools is causing us to make some very serious decisions about staffing, and the great use of technology in the schools now is becoming a concern when it’s not working,” Lembeck said. “When I met with teachers in schools and administrators, they’re all clamoring for additional tech support in the schools. We can’t keep adding staff. We can’t keep growing our business. We have to do business in a different way and examine alternate ways of using staff.”
Lembeck expects most of those people in the eliminated paraprofessional positions to be hired back due to retirements.
The FY13 budget projects revenue at $74,075,489, down $190,313 from FY2012’s projected revenues, and expenditures at $77,741,500, up $3.8 million over FY12’s projected expenditures, Franklin said.
Marietta school board Chairwoman Jill Mutimer said she liked what she saw.
“I’m pleased that we’re projected to go into the next year without having furloughs and any pay cuts or (reductions in force), and I am very pleased that for the first time in several years our teachers are projected to get a pay increase, so I do think that’s good news,” Mutimer said. “Also, I was pleased to see the couple of things for increased support the schools had voiced they needed. I was pleased to see that the administration came up with ways to fund that with off setting cuts to other things, so without adding new expenses for what we need they searched and found things to cut pretty much to fund that.”
The budget is scheduled for adoption on June 19.