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March 5, 2013

MELIN: An update on Greater Clark’s budget

Since becoming superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools, I have had the opportunity to familiarize myself with our schools, personnel, communities, academic initiatives and budget. 

What I have learned in my short time in Greater Clark is our staff is doing great things daily on behalf of our students, our parents care a great deal about their children’s education and our community is committed to a high quality educational system.

Although much of my time has been spent on the academic and communication components of my position, I have also focused on fully understanding our financial status. Along the way, our Chief Financial Officer Tom Dykiel has been integral in determining the status of our revenues and our expenditures.

School funding is broken into two main components — a general fund and tax-supported funds. The general fund receives revenue from the state based upon student enrollment. For Greater Clark, our general fund budget is about $70 million, with 92 percent of the budget for salaries and benefits. Tax-supported funds receive revenue from local property taxes. In Greater Clark, we have five specific tax-supported funds with a total budget of about $30 million.

As we move forward in 2013, we know that we need to reduce general fund expenditures by approximately $2.5 million in order to achieve a balanced budget by the end of 2014. Achieving a balanced budget in 2013 is impossible because most of our employees have contracts that run over two calendar years. Therefore,  expenditure reductions we are planning in 2013 will not take full effect until the 2014 calendar year. 

Our goal is not only to achieve a balanced budget by the end of the 2014 calendar year, but also begin generating a cash balance in our general fund. State guidelines suggest school corporations maintain at least an 8 percent cash balance in their general fund. With a $70 million general fund budget, our cash balance should be approximately $5.6 million. It currently stands at about $1.6 million. 

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