Bloomington school district to continue fund balance spend down

The Bloomington school district’s calculated spending of its general fund balance will continue for the 2017-18 school year, based upon budget projections for the coming fiscal year.

With the financial year for Bloomington Public Schools coming to a close at the end of the month, the Bloomington Board of Education reviewed several pieces of the district’s financial picture for the coming school year at its June 12 meeting. The board’s approval of the 2017-18 budgets will come at its June 26 meeting.

Rod Zivkovich, the district’s executive director of finance and support services, detailed the financial swings various budget components will undergo during the coming year.

Two operating fund budgets drew several questions and comments from board members.

The district general fund and transportation budget will see a modest increase in revenue, but expenditures will increase by far more in the coming year. The district’s general fund expenditures were nearly $1 million more than revenue for the current fiscal year, and the projected budget shortfall for the coming year is projected at $2.7 million. The district will start the school year with a fund balance of $12.1 million, approximately 9.1 percent of its total expenditures, and will finish the coming fiscal year with a fund balance of $9.3 million, which would account for 6.9 percent of expenditures, Zivkovich explained.

Revenue growth for the coming school year was stymied by the projected decline in enrollment for the coming year. The dollars per student that come from the state will increase 2 percent to $6,188. That increase per student will increase the state dollars the district receives next year, but fewer students will limit that total increase to $234,000. In contrast, the district saw a $3.1 million increase in state dollars during the current school year, according to Zivkovich.

The district is projecting total revenue of $133 million for the general fund in the coming year. Approximately 75 percent of that funding – $98.9 million – comes through the state, while 20 percent comes from district levies. Of the remaining 5 percent, 2.2 percent comes through federal dollars, Zivkovich noted.

Expenditures for the coming year, however, will top $135.6 million, with regular classroom instruction accounting for about half of that and special education accounting for 22 percent, he said.

The district’s fund balance spend down has been part of an ongoing strategy, in conjunction with budget reductions, to offset the costs of district operations. District officials have noted for several years that its revenue has not kept pace with the cost of operating the district. The district had budgeted for a $1.1 million dollar spend down of the budget reserves for the current school year, but the year-end total should show that the spend down was more than $100,000 less than anticipated.

Despite the lofty numbers discussed by the board, a 10-cent increase also prompted a discussion during the meeting.

The cost of school lunches is increasing 10 cents for students next fall, yet the district is poised to spend down its food service fund balance by $150,000 next year.

The dime increase across the board increases the district’s revenue, but only about 40 percent of the meals served by the district are paid for by students, Boardmember Tom Bennett said. Zivkovich noted that the reimbursement the district receives for free meals served to eligible students doesn’t offset the cost for meals served to secondary students.

Bennett expressed concern that the district spends more than it recoups on meal service. The fund balance at the conclusion of this fiscal year will be slightly more than $1 million, and represents a spend down of about $122,000. With next year’s projected spend down, the balance will be approximately $870,000, according to Zivkovich.

The rate increase for lunches – putting the cost at $2.60 for elementary students, $2.85 for middle school students and $2.90 for high school students – will not affect the cost of breakfast served at district schools. Several schools offer free breakfast, while three schools charge $1.40 to $1.55 per student.