Thursday, January 22, 2009

Financial Condition of Iowa Schools

Staff and Patrons:
A spreadsheet from the Department of Education was sent out on my email distribution list. The spreadsheet provides preliminary information on the total general fund expenditures, unspent balance, undesignated/unreserved fund, and total cash and investments for all Iowa school districts for fiscal year 2008 (July 1, 2007 - June 30, 2008). This financial information is compiled by the Iowa Department of Management and Budget.

Unspent balance is the difference between the total general fund expenditures and the maximum allowable expenditures or budget authority. A district that overspends (negative unspent balance) their maximum allowable expenditures is subject to review by the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC), and must submit a plan to the SBRC to work towards a positive unspent balance. Sidney CSD finished the 2008 fiscal year with a positive unspent balance of $504,973.52. The Iowa Association of School Boards recommends a minimum positive unspent balance of $1,000 per student. Sidney's 2008 certified enrollment was 385 students.

Undesignated/unreserved fund balance is essentially the amount of cash in the general fund as of June 30, 2008. Sidney CSD finished the 2008 fiscal year with a balance of $799,985.83. The Iowa Association of School Boards recommends a minimum $1 of cash in the undesignated/unreserved fund balance for every $1 of unspent balance. Sidney CSD finished fiscal year 2008 with $1.58 in cash for every $1 of unspent balance. Districts with negative undesignated/unreserved fund balances have two courses of action: 1] borrow money to meet financial obligations; and/or 2] increase the property tax levy for additional cash.

At the end of fiscal year 2008 Sidney CSD was in a fiscally stable and sound position. However, these two key financial trends warrant continual scrutiny. In recent years more and more districts have seen spending authority eroded at an accelerated rate as student enrollment decreases. Also, the economic downturn has made uncertain the level of future state funding for PK-12 education.

Feel free to email, phone, stop in, or post comments on this blog space.

Technology In-service

I will periodically be posting information concerning Sidney Community Schools.  Please post your thoughts, ideas, concerns, questions, etc... concerning any school-related topic.  Today and tomorrow the staff is involved with staff development focused on integrating technology into the curriculum.  The training has been hosted by Maryann Angeroth, Deanna Etherington, and Judy Griffin from the AEA.  The training has been very worthwhile and practical.  Staff has received training in iMovie, Web 2.0, and online database resources.  Technology training will continue to be a focus of the professional development at Sidney.  Next year each student grades 9 - 12 will have the use of a MacBook for educational purposes.  Laptops for grades 3 - 8 will be utilized in house on portable lap top carts as has been current practice.  The ratio of laptops to students in those grades will be 1 laptop for every 1.5 students.  Providing 21st Century learning tools to improve student learning, achievement, and opportunity is a priority of the Sidney Community Schools.