BURLINGTON — In the first of a series of discussions over the preliminary budget for the 2018-19 school year, Burlington Area School District business manager Ruth Schenning said that the district’s total tax levy could be down by about $2.2 million.
At Monday’s meeting of the district’s Finance Committee, Schenning presented a summary of the district’s preliminary revenues for the upcoming school year. The total tax levy for 2017-18 was $21,144,836; the proposed budget for 2018-19 has set the levy at $18,949,306, down $2,195,530 or 10.38 percent.
One reason for the drop, according to Schenning, is an increase in state aid. Last year the state gave the district $15,480,208 and this year they predict that will increase to $16,328,988, up $848,780.
Another is an overall reduction of costs. The general fund in 2017-18 had been $18,574,374; the preliminary budget for 2018-19 sets it the fund at $17,273,801, down $1,300,573.
Last year’s budget also used $2,202,150 to pay down debt while the proposed budget for next year uses $1,311,565, a reduction of $890,585 or 40.44 percent. Schenning said that is because the final payment on the referendum that built Burlington High School and Winkler Elementary between 1998 and 2000 is scheduled for April 2019.
But Schenning cautioned the numbers are still preliminary.
“Please know this is a work in progress,” she said. “And it keeps changing every day.”
Enrollment and fees
District Superintendent Peter Smet said that one factor that may change is enrollment. The current data projects decreases in enrollment for the district through 2024. But from September 2017 to January 2018, enrollment increased by 12 students.
“Which is nothing amazing,” said Smet. “Except that in my experience it has meant that when you see an increase between September and January you’ll see another increase the following September.”
At this point the district does foresee raising any student fees. Adult lunches may go up from $3.50 a meal to $3.65.
The Finance Committee has two more budget discussions scheduled, one on May 21 and another on June 4.