When a budget year ends, unspent money returns to the school district for re-appropriation as reversion funds.
The school system was notified this fall that it had about $12.3 million from the fiscal year that ended this past summer, plus an additional $577,000 because revenue exceeded projections.
The annual total of those reversion funds has been falling. A few years ago, the school district had $22 million, Chief Financial Officer Farrell Hanzaker told the School Board recently. Now it’s down to under $13 million.
“I don’t want it to get much lower than that,” Hanzaker said.
The School Board passed a resolution Tuesday to redistribute $12,894,051 from those funds to address needs in its current budget and in its next one.
The Board first set aside $8,299,318 — the same amount as last year — to cover a little more than half of a projected shortfall for fiscal year 2016-17.
Here is where the other reversion fund money is going:
- $1.6 million to the school’s risk management fund
- $1.4 million to buy 14 replacement school buses
- $485,921 to replace maintenance vehicle, which are also aging, according to Hanzaker
- $300,000 for SOL improvements and collaborative planning time for teachers
- $808,812 to upgrade network services and match a federal grant
Hanzaker stressed that officials need to adequately budget for the risk management fund in the schools’ next spending plan so they don’t need to rely again on reversion funds.
“We’re running short in the risk management fund,” he said. “We’ve been trying to cover that in past years with available reversion monies at the end of the year or what would be end-balance funds.”
Hanzaker said he’s hoping there is money left in a transportation account at the end of this fiscal year so the district can buy a few more than those 14 buses. The next budget will also include more money for bus purchases, he said.
“We really ought to be replacing about 50 school buses every year, so we’ve been woefully inadequate in doing that over the last year, but this is a start,” Hanzaker said.
School Board member Ashley McLeod asked if some of the money that is being set aside to address the budget shortfall could instead be used to buy more buses. Hanzaker and Spence cautioned against that.
“We would love to triple the number of buses that we’re buying,” Spence said. “But because we’ve got to present you with a balanced budget. If the state revenues don’t come in where we’re hopeful they will, we would end up then going to have to find that money.”
The re-appropriations for the reversion funds must still be approved by the City Council.