Fayette school board 2012.10.17

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Fayette Local Schools treasurer Kelly Bentley has no problem accepting the numbers from the first couple of years from the five-year financial forecast she's required to make, but after that not so much. There are just too many variables to change the picture.

That doesn't mean she's ignoring the remainder of the five-year forecast. After all, when the projection shows the district's cash running out in the 2015-16 school year, that's certainly something to keep in mind.

Actions by state legislators could change the financial picture quickly and property reappraisals by the county could have a significant impact.

The financial projection for the past year called for a deficit, but instead the district came out $100,000 in the black due to a general fund decrease of $273,000. Administrators made cuts in unnecessary programs and services, and benefited from a wage freeze that staff members agreed to take.

"That really was a bonus for us," Bentley said about wages.

This year general fund expenses are moving back upward by $169,000 due to two additional staff members at the elementary school, step increases to teachers and other factors.

That increase cuts into the fund balance—the money that's expected to run out three years down the road. In the nearby Morenci district, its fund balance will soon be exhausted, with nothing left over to pull it out from a deficit budget.

"The economy plays a big part in our funding," Bentley said.

Layoffs lead to less income tax revenue and an increase in delinquent payments. When the state switched to the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) a few years ago, tax revenue dropped and Bentley doesn't see that the district is receiving anything from that change. In the past, when businesses were given abatements for expansion or new hirings, schools would still receive their share of taxes, but that’s no longer the case.

Several factors can affect spending, also, such as the need to hire substitutes during the school year, the increasing cost of insurance and fuel, and changes in special education needs.

Barring any unexpected catastrophes, Bentley figures the district will make it through for now, but she will continue to monitor the situation to appraise the board of education about the need for more cuts to reduce deficit spending or for an additional levy. 

Voters renewed the existing general fund levy a year ago. Although the levy brings in $298,000 annually, those funds don't last long against a biweekly payroll of $100,000.

“Our main focus is to educate children,” Bentley said, “and the challenge is to work within the revenue dollars we receive. Our goal is to continue making good, solid fiscal decisions.”

Board of education members approved the latest five-year forecast Monday at the regular October meeting.

MOBILE—Policies regarding the use of mobile devices by students is changing. The new policy would allow the use of devices in the cafeteria during lunch and in classrooms for certain projects, upon request by the teacher and approval by the principal.

DONATION—A donation of $3,335 from the Fayette Area Foundation was given for the purchase of a laptop computer and software for the music department and iPads with covers for the technology department. 

STAFF—Family leave through Dec. 7 was granted to bus driver Cheryl Shaffer. Brian Keefer and Rodney Kessler were approved as volunteer coaches for the winter season. Paul Baker was approved as a volunteer band assistant to help with the pep band.

MEETINGS—The November board meeting was changed to 7 p.m. Nov. 13 due to parent-teacher conferences. The December meeting was moved to 6 p.m. Dec. 17 due to a basketball game.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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