The Caesar Rodney School District Board of Education approved a final 2012 fiscal year budget that is essentially flat at $83.57 million in expenditures despite administrator and teacher salaries.

The Caesar Rodney School District Board of Education approved a final 2012 fiscal year budget that is essentially flat at $83.57 million in expenditures despite administrator and teacher salaries.

The school board unanimously approved the final 2012 fiscal year budget at its Tuesday night meeting at Nellie H. Stokes Elementary School.

The 2012 budget includes a 2 percent raise on the state side of salaries for all employees, Caesar Rodney Director of Business & Finance Dr. Ada Carter said after the meeting. It also includes a 4 percent raise on the local side of salaries for teachers and paraprofessionals – as negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement, she said.

The state typically pays the bulk of salaries for administrators and teachers – usually between 60 percent and 70 percent as long as districts have earned those positions based on a district’s enrollment. Local tax dollars pay for the rest of their salaries, unless they are subsidized by the state, as is the case for districts like Caesar Rodney and neighboring Capital.

Carter refused to use the word “retroactive” to describe the raises for teachers and aides because of the  technical details involved with payroll. But, in essence, the district agreed to give teachers a 4.04 percent raise on the local side of the salaries for the 2012 fiscal year since they were not given a 2 percent raise in 2011, she said. Had they received a raise last year, they would have received a 2 percent increase this year.

As for administrators, they received a 3 percent raise on the local side of their salaries in addition to the 2 percent raise on the state side, Carter said.

The budget has $94.95 million in total revenues, leaving Caesar Rodney with an apparent, total surplus of $11.38 million, according to the budget prepared by Carter. But the actual surplus, otherwise known as a carryover, for the operating budget is about $7 million, she said.

This year’s overall budget is relatively flat, Carter told the board. Local, state and federal revenues went down a collective 2 percent, Carter said. But local and state revenues, not including federal funds, went up 2.5 percent mostly because of the raises in pay and benefits on the state side of funding, she said.

The bad news was that Caesar Rodney will have to draw down its reserves by about $410,000 to offset some cuts in state funding for transportation and a loss in local revenue for curriculum, Carter said. Namely, the state of Delaware cut state funding to all school districts by 10 percent, which meant $300,000 in local money Caesar Rodney must spend, Carter said. In addition, Caesar Rodney had to spend $110,000 in reserves for curriculum because of the rising cost of local salaries and benefits.

The school district also will spend an additional $125,000 – a one-time expense -  to upgrade its servers and other technological upgrades, and another one-time expense of $100,000 for maintenance costs.

“I had to use carryover funds to balance [the budget], which is not what the board would usually want me to do,” Carter said. ‘It’s kind of like spending your savings.”

The good news is that the state helps Caesar Rodney significantly as one of the relatively poorer districts in the state with so-called Division III money, Carter said. Local revenue raised through the current expense property tax is not sufficient for the district’s annual local salaries of about $14 million, Carter said. Therefore, $9.5 million in state Division III money was used primarily for the local portion of salaries.

In addition, Caesar Rodney’s charter school payments were down from $458,445 for the 2011 fiscal year to $192,128 for FY 2012, Carter said. That indicated a drop in the number of students leaving Caesar Rodney for charter schools.

As for choice, C.R. is paying about $199,000 in tuition to other school districts for students it loses to them via choice available to all families in the state, Carter said. But C.R. is also receiving about $322,000 in payments for the students it attracts from other districts for a net gain of about $176,000.

“We always have a net gain,” she said.