It's a no-surprises, status-quo budget for the Salt Lake School District in fiscal 1988-89, if the Salt Lake Board of Education basically adopts the tentative budget prepared by the district staff.
The board members plan an afternoonlong budget work session June 1 to discuss priorities and possible changes for the nearly $90 million budget, which projects a $1.9 million deficit with no tax increases. The budget will go to public hearing at 7:30 p.m. June 21.But unlike the state's second largest school district, Jordan, which is increasing class sizes and cutting teachers to handle its projected deficit, Salt Lake School District, the fifth largest school district, plans to absorb its $1.9 million deficit by using a fund balance, the money that was budgeted but not spent at the end of the previous fiscal year.
By law, the district must adopt a balanced budget plan, but when estimating revenues and expenditures for sums running in the tens of millions of dollars, a slight error can create either a surplus or deficit, said district business administrator Gary Harmer. Because the previous year's expenditures were under the estimate, the district now has the extra money to cover the projected $1.9 million deficit.
A deficit that size would wipe out the existing fund balance, he said. However, because budgets are only calculated estimates, next year's deficit may not be as much as $1.9 million.
In 2 years, the district plans to retire its three bonds of $7.8 million. When that happens, the yearly payments of $4 million in principal, interest and bonding agent fees would be freed up to cover future deficits, he said.
The 1988-89 tentative budget of $89,755,292 actually is a 3.23 percent increase over the 1987-88 budget of $86,974,010, Harmer said. The student enrollment is projected at 23,968, a decline of 411 students.
The budget rise is caused by salary changes due to inflationary increases in Social Security and retirement benefits and an increase in health and other insurance rates for the district's 2,215 employees. Another factor is salary adjustments for employees who move into different job grades.
Whether or not teachers will get higher wages is still on the bargaining table. At a March budget workshop, Superintendent John W. Bennion reported the teachers haven't had salary increases in 2 years and urged the school board to consider some type of increase.
Harmer won't comment on possible pay raises for teachers because of the ongoing negotiations between the board and teachers. However, if the school board decides to give out teacher raises, there will have to be budget adjustments elsewhere.
The tentative budget suggests bolstering money for textbooks and supplies by taking $150,000 out of a capital outlay fund designed for replacement equipment and supplies.
Harmer said the district, which is on a 5-year rotational cycle for most textbooks, does a better job than many in providing books and materials for its students. He said Salt Lake spends $105.37 per student for textbooks and supplies while the statewide average is $75.96 per student.
The only major capital projects recommended are $250,000 for a library addition at the Newman Elementary School and $616,526 for a new track at West High School. Harmer said these were to start discussion and the board may select other projects for funding.