Dover Post
  • Caesar Rodney Board of Education takes a look at district finances

  • Tough times may be in store for the Caesar Rodney School District. Due to a decrease in various types of funding the district will have to keep a close eye on its ledger sheets, according to Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald.
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  • Tough times may be in store for the Caesar Rodney School District. Due to a decrease in various types of funding the district will have to keep a close eye on its ledger sheets, according to Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald.
    “With a continuing loss of state and federal funds, the district has to monitor very closely our expenses and make tough decisions regarding positions and programs in the future,” Fitzgerald told Caesar Rodney school board members at a special meeting earlier this month.
    The exact state of the district’s finances was outlined in a report made by Dr. Ada Carter, director of business and finance for the Caesar Rodney School District.
    For fiscal years 2014, 2015 and 2016, Carter has projected revenues of $19,164,541. Revenues are expected to stay flat. In order to realize an increase in revenue, the district would have to hold a referendum, see an increase in properties or receive additional Division 3 or education sustainment funding.
    Payroll expenses are projected to jump from $17,040,274 in Fiscal Year 2014 to $17, 520,335 in Fiscal Year 2015. This jump is caused by step increases and the loss of Race to the Top funds, Carter said.
    A step increase refers to when a teacher reaches a designated point in their career and is automatically given a raise. Over the next two fiscal years the Caesar Rodney School District is contractually obligated to pay out at total of $388,112 in step increases. A total of $356,788 will be paid to teachers and $31,324 will be paid to paraprofessionals. Step increases for administrators will cost the district a total of $16,760 over the next two years, according to Carter’s report.
    “We’re on the hook for this no matter what,” Carter said. “We’re also on the hook for steps for custodians and secretaries. They won’t be significant compared to these numbers here.”
    Also, the amount of funding that the district carries over is projected to dwindle each year, as well. Carter has projected $2,636,986 in carry-over in 2014, $1,875,966 in 2015 and $634,885 in 2016. That reduction is due to the district needing to spend its current reserves, according to the report.
    The district’s reserves are made up primarily of reading and math match-tax funds and Children’s Services Cost Recovery Project (CSCRP) funds. Reading match taxes and math match taxes are used to fund math and reading specialists in the district’s schools; the taxes are levied by the district, along with extra time funds, which are used to fund summer school teachers, after-school instructors and classroom aids. CSCRP funds are part of a statewide initiative to reimburse districts for the cost of providing school-based health care services to Medicaid recipients.
    The district has been using its match tax and CSCRP funding to make payroll this fiscal year, Carter said. The CSCRP funds will run out next year, and the reading match tax will run out by FY 16.
    Page 2 of 2 - Carter is projecting a deficit of roughly $800,000 by 2016. The reaming math match tax and extra time funds will be put toward covering the deficit. The math match tax reserve will only consist of $110,000 and the extra time tax reserve will only consist of $109,000. Those funds will not cover the deficit and the district will have to tap into what Carter called the district’s “rainy day” fund to meet Fiscal Year 2016 expenses. The “rainy day” fund has $4,697,310, according to Carter’s report.
    One of the most immediate issues facing the district is the loss of Race to the Top funding, Carter said. Fiscal Year 2014 will be the last year that the district receives Race to the Top funds. Caesar Rodney currently has two middle-school and one high-school achievement liaison teachers who are being paid with those funds. The estimated total cost of those positions, with benefits and other employment costs, is $270,000.
    A decision will have to be made about how to handle those positions, said Fitzgerald.
    “With Race to the Top going away we either have to make a decision whether to keep those [achievement liaisons] or move them to regular units,” Fitzgerald said. “Ideally, if we have three units I’d like to move the [liaisons] in that direction. If not we have to make some tough choices.”
    The current financial plan has staff covered for this year and next year. Achievement liaisons will be paid using reading tax and extra time funding to sustain FY 2015, Carter said.
    “The plan, when we began our sustainment plan in 2010, was to hold onto the staff as long as possible,” Carter said. “That’s turned out to be next year.”
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