The Dysart Unified School District approved its 2015-16 annual financial report for 2015-16 during its meeting last week and without context, the district’s coffers seem robust.
Dysart reported a maintenance and operations fund balance of approximately $8.4 million. Classroom Site Funds ended with a balance of approximately $4.4 million and the Unrestricted Capital Outlay Fund ended with a balance of approximately $12.7 million.
However, the maintenance and operations balance included $4 million in Proposition 123 funding received after the 2015-16 school year ended but before the budget year ended. The district distributed that money Friday as a 4 percent bonus to returning teachers.
Classroom site funds carry a balance at the end of a budget year due to timing.
“These are the monies associated with the state’s teacher performance initiative and are earned by teachers based on performance tied to academic goals. The actual determination of eligibility cannot be finalized until after the school year ends and the results of the academic goal indicators are available and analyzed. These funds, which are earned based on academic achievement indicators in one school year, are actually paid out in the next fiscal year in August and September,” said Dysart Superintendent Dr. Gail Pletnick.
She said the $4.4 million carried over in the fund cannot be used except to improve pay for teachers.”
The district entered 2015-16 with a maintenance and operation fund balance of $5.86 million, and a $4.2 million balance for unrestricted capital outlay.
The district is actively building up its capital outlay balance. Dr. Pletnick said capital funding from the state has been significantly curtailed since the economic downturn began in 2008, with the formula generated state funding available to the district reduced by more than 85 percent.
“We do not see the state restoring the withheld capital funding, so we are managing, prioritizing within to be able to meet at least a portion of our capital needs,” Dr. Plenick said.
About $1.15 million of the remaining M&O funding was transferred to the capital fund to continue its growth, said Jack Eaton, Dysart business services executive director.
Once the 2014 override vote failed, the district cut back. But the state formula funded for 2015-16 based on the prior year’s enrollment figures. Dysart’s enrollment dropped by more than 1,000 in 2015-16, so the district did not spend as much as it budgeted on teachers and support staff.
“It was an interesting year. If you look at it, you’ll notice we actually spent less money than we did the year before,” Mr. Eaton said. “We had an enrollment decrease and we staffed based on the actual enrollment, but we were funded based on the prior year.”
Unrestricted capital outlay funds are spent on instructional materials, hardware and software, property – like buses, buildings and land — and construction.
Until this year, the district’s entire fleet of 154 buses was at least 8 years old. Mr. Eaton said Dysart started purchasing new buses in 2016-17, adding 11 based on developer donations.
“Because we were able to do that, that’ll free up some money in our capital budget to address things like when we had two 75-ton compressor motors go out this summer — at about $75,000 apiece. We’re able to use the capital money to keep those things going. Otherwise, that’s the equivalent of two teachers,” Mr. Eaton said.