NEW ALBANY — The New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. board voted unanimously Monday to adopt a 2021 budget of $134 million, which includes $76 million for the education fund, $13 million for debt services, $35 million for operations, $6 million for the referendum fund and $2 million for the rainy day fund.
The Average Daily Membership (ADM), the count of student enrollment that determines school funding, is one of the concerns. Student enrollment is down by about 270 students, or about 2.3%, compared to last year, and it could mean a loss of $1.7 million to $2 million for the district, NAFC Chief Financial Officer Chris Street said.
“We kind of know what that number’s going to be, so we’ll take a little bit of a cash flow hit coming up,” he said. “We’ve been preparing for that, so we’ve been trying to really watch our expenditures in that fund and give ourselves a little bit of room within the education operation not to significantly eat into our cash balances but try to manage those through that piece of it.”
There is also uncertainty whether state legislators will fully fund virtual learning in the spring, and those considerations will influence administrators’ discussions in the spring and summer, according to Street.
NAFC Superintendent Brad Snyder said the district has had “good fiscal stewardship for a while,” and it has “cash reserves to ride through the storm.”
“But the question is, how big is the storm, and how long is the storm going to last?” he said. “That’s where I would submit that we have another layer of protection...this board of trustees is very blessed in the fact that we do have a rainy day fund. Personally, I think we can weather a pretty strong storm.”
He does not feel the district needs to make budget reductions at this point, but he notes that potential financial impacts related to COVID-19 could create challenges further down the road.
“It’s a budget year with legislature, and four, five, six months from now, I’ll be able to answer that question a little better in March and April...,” he said. “We are adopting the normal budget even though we have decreasing revenues and lower students. Is that safe, is that wise? I think we can afford it. For 2021, I think it’s a smart play.”
Street said the district can always budget an appropriation without spending it all, which the district does every year.
“My philosophy on it is this is something we’re analyzing every month, every time you can get a little bit more of the puzzle shown to you, you know a little bit about what your plan of action is…,” he said.
The tax rate approved by the board is $1.33, but it will probably be lower than advertised at about $1.02, according to NAFC Chief Financial Officer Chris Street. The 2020 tax rate was $0.97.
“We’d like to be a little more specific on [the tax rate], but unfortunately, Floyd County is one of the few counties that does not have its assessed valuations — some counties get them in August, some in September, but Clark and Floyd seem to be one of the latest ones, so we’re standing here tonight adopting a budget not knowing one of the major components that determines that rate,” Street said.