District balances budget without layoffs

Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW – With the deadline looming at the end of the month, the Riverview Community School District set its 2010-11 budget Tuesday night.

Officials were able to decrease expenditures appropriated by $721,000 – from $24.9 million in 2009-10 to $24.18 million for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. About $258,000 of that came from expenses for basic programs, which still stands at about $12.86 million in appropriated funds.

“We’ve deferred some high school and middle school computer purchases. That saved $50,000,” said Rick Muszynski, the district’s director of business and finance. “Retirements were a big help. They contributed $900,000 in reduced costs.”

However, revenue and transactions also are down $579,000, from $23.36 million to $22.78 million. Although local and federal revenue is down a combined $853,000, state revenue increased nearly $224,000. Other incoming revenue and transactions are up about $50,000.

“We’re losing some grant funding,” Muszynski said of one-time American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants. “Our expenses related to those grants go away.”

The district took other measures to cut costs, including combining the middle school’s seventh- and eighth-grade teams into one team for all sports and eliminating ninth-grade teams completely.

“We also implemented pay to participate,” Muszynski said, noting that specific fees still are undetermined, but that participation fees and program cuts will save $75,000.

He also said $385,000 in staff expenses would be saved by increasing class sizes to align similarly with those in other districts, and hopes a solid showing through Schools of Choice enrollment will also add to revenue.

“We have an excellent Schools of Choice program here,” Muszynski said.

The district was able to balance the budget without making any layoffs, he said, adding, “The retirements really helped.”

The $1.4 million red-ink difference between the district’s total revenue and expenses was taken out of the district surplus, dropping it to $1.4 million. Additionally, the percentage of the surplus set aside for expenditures decreased from 11.22 percent to 5.78 percent.

A similar $1.4 million deficit next year would clean out the surplus, likely resulting in layoffs and additional program cuts districts across the state are already experiencing.

“If school funding remains the same, we’re going to have to start making deeper cuts,” Muszynski said.

With health care costs increasing and state funding decreasing or sitting idle, Muszynski said the earliest any changes would take place is February 2011, when district administrators begin working on the 2011-12 budget.

(Contact Chris Jackett at cjackett@bewickpublications.com)