The Executive and Finance Committees got that dismal news at their meetings on Monday. The full board will get the official word at its meeting Thursday.
And that budget report is likely for get the board’s full attention, rather than getting the customary rubber stamp seal of approval as is usually the case.
Interim Supt. Donnie Perron said Monday that reductions of several million more dollars are going to be necessary, in his opinion and that of Finance Director Tressa Miller.
Those cuts will follow spending reductions incorporated into the current budget when it was adopted in August.
Those changes, including not filling a number of empty teaching slots and doing away with Adult Education, were made in an attempt to cope with rising mandated costs.
Chief among those were more than $3 million in increased retirement plan contributions.
Another major factor in the belt-tightening was the absence of one-time federal stimulus funding received last year.
But the changes evidently were not enough.
Though revenue and expenses are within budget for the fiscal year’s first quarter, Miller projects trouble ahead.
The $100 million General Fund spending plan had no wiggle room in it, and wriggles are already necessary.
For starters, the board had to find $75,000 to pay the first installment on the desegregation legal bill settlement. Another $75,000 is due in January.
That $150,000 will have to come from accounts already funded. There is no extra revenue available.
The committees Monday took initial steps, recommending to the full board curtailment of most travel, a reduction (to 26 cents) the system mileage reimbursement rate and changes in sick leave administration.
Materials available at the Finance meeting show the system is not broke. It has a fund balance of about $7 million, accumulated through the years as the General Fund generated operated surplus in some 12-month periods.
The ability to build that fund in the past causes board member John Miller to question what happened top change the pattern.
“We’ve never experienced the difficulty we are having at this time. What is going on? What is being considered for cuts? What are we doing to solve the problem?” he asked.
Finance Chairman Scott Richard pointed out that budget concerns have been growing for at least 18 months, noting that the problems were aired in detail at a board retreat this past February.
He noted another retreat to help map where the system will go next with its financial planning is being planned for the short-term future.
Miller has asked, to no avail so far, that the board request a legislative audit of its fiscal affairs.