The Hamilton Southeastern Schools Board of Trustees spent nearly three hours Sept. 26 discussing the draft fiscal plan for the next three years, with a focus on 2024.
The work session presentation was led by the district’s Chief Financial Officer Katy Dowling, who went through the 71-page, small-print document that detailed revenues and expenses for various funds the district relies on to maintain its operations.
The combined total of those funds for 2024 is a projected $296 million. That’s about $10 million more than the current year’s budget. The primary revenue sources are state and federal funding, which together total about $158 million; and property taxes, which total about $121 million after the circuit breaker loss is factored in.
The fiscal plan projects budget increases in 2025 and 2026, as well, with revenues of an estimated $304 million and $312 million, respectively.
The draft plan anticipates ending 2024 with a reserve balance of $80 million. The budget also assumes that voters will approve the operating referendum on the Nov. 7 ballot.
The referendum calls for a reduced rate of up to .1995 cents per $100 assessed value, providing annual school funding of an estimated $24 million. The current tax levy, approved by voters in 2016, expires at the end of the year. Through the 2016 referendum, property owners have paid .2275 cents per $100 assessed value.
Most of the revenue from the referendum is earmarked for instruction, accounting for about $21 million of the $24 million total. The rest goes toward student support services, such as school resource officers and security services.
“And if — if is a little word that means a big thing — the referendum does not pass, then we have to go back to the drawing board and see,” Dowling said, noting that the state Department of Local Government Finance is aware the district has a pending referendum, and will work with the district if a significant budget adjustment is needed.
Dowling noted that the draft fiscal plan doesn’t include new hires in 2024 in support services or administration.
“We told all leaders not to come in this year with any requests for staffing of that nature,” she said. “Knowing we were going into a referendum, the only thing we were staffing were certified staff members and no (new) administrators.”
The plan anticipates hiring eight teachers, five instructional assistants and two counselors in 2024.
About 40 minutes into the lengthy presentation, Dowling acknowledged that the information was a little dense and dry.
“Is it the weather or is it me? I feel like everybody’s either ready to go to sleep or run away,” she joked. “I feel like I should have bought Redbull or, you know, cotton candy.”
A video of the Sept. 26 work session can be viewed at hseschools.org/board/board-of-school-trustees. Click the “Watch the live board meeting” button to find the list of archived meeting videos.
The board’s Finance Committee will continue reviewing the district’s fiscal plan during a noon meeting Oct. 3. Additional Finance Committee meetings are set for 8 a.m. Oct. 10 and 10 a.m. Oct. 24.