By Mark Reynolds
Highland School Business Manager, Lissa Jilek, reminded the board that last December they were introduced to a brief Long Range Financial Plan that she has renamed the District Economic Profile.
“It’s been extremely difficult to do a long range financial plan so I thought I would give a snapshot on where we stand now as of December 1 ,” she said.
Jilek said in November the board adopted a Fund Balance and a review of the Reserve Plan, asking, “what do our reserves mean, what are their uses and how do they fit into school district goals. That was completed in November.”
Jilek said the district used some of the employee retirement system reserves to balance the 2021 budget.
“We do look at those reserves, we look at their intentions and are we going to need them to balance the budget,” she said.
In a power point presentation Jilek compared the district’s revenues as of December 2019 to December 2020, “and we are status quo.” She said there was some initial concern on state aid cuts, which did happen in August. Jilek promised that the district will have “so much more information” on state and federal aid next month concerning the July-December 2020 time period.
When comparing district expenditures from 2019 to 2020, Jilek said, “we are actually seeing a savings [of $409,000]. They are coming from transportation, athletics, materials and supplies and actually in some salary codes. That was quite pleasant to see.” She said the district has not been paying for these traditional services or supplies due to the current health crisis.
“When you look at the expenditures and you compare it to the revenues, we are right on target, right now,” she said.
Jilek reviewed the debt service budget and schedules. She said on January 12, 2021 a joint meeting of the Audit and Support Services Committees has been scheduled to determine how to spend $850,000 that is in a Capital Reserve fund. She suggested that the board begin to look at when they might be asking voters to approve a new capital project, even as the current $8 million project is nearing completion.
At the January meeting the financial consulting firm of Bernard Donegan Inc, “will look at our current debt structure, when do bonds end and when can we fit in a new project and not make any spike in the tax levies.”
In 2020-21 the district received a pandemic adjustment under the Cares Act of $385,678. Jilek said it is not known if that will continue in the 2021-22 school year, nor is it known what the Federal Covid-19 funding will be for next year.
Jilek said the board needs to consider Capital Expenditure Planning for bus and vehicle replacements. She pointed out that a capital equipment proposition that had been removed last year may be brought forward for consideration in January.