The budget includes raises for teachers, getting them on the right step for the first time in more than a decade.
For the first time in several years, the Warren County R-III School District is projected to have a surplus budget in all three of the operations, debt service and capital projects funds for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.
Excluding years the district received federal stimulus funds, the district is projected to have a surplus budget in all three funds for the first time since the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Warren County R-III Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith said the district was “essentially bailed out” with the federal stimulus money.
After having a $1.8 million deficit a few years ago, the district is now carrying positive fund balances.
“Really excited to see where we are financially,” Klinginsmith said.
“Getting better on sound footing and having decent fund balances. Financially, we’re looking much stronger than we were three or four years ago. Really happy with where we are right now.”
The recommended 2023-2024 budget has a projected operational budget surplus of $177,127. The projected fund balance on July 1, 2023, is over $10.8 million and on June 30 is over $11 million. There is a projected surplus of $371,500 in the debt service fund. The fund balance at the beginning of the fiscal year is projected to be over $2.3 million. The projected balance at the end of the fiscal year is over $2.7 million. The recommended budget includes a surplus in the capital projects fund of $6,118. The beginning fund balance on July 1, 2023, is $869,151. The projected fund balance on June 30, 2024, is $875,269.
Klinginsmith’s recommended budget calls for district staff to be on the correct step based on their years of service for the first time in many years. Klinginsmith’s recommended budget includes a 3.82 percent increase in salaries for district staff. The parties agreed during negotiations to place staff on the correct step based on their years of service. This will be the first time in over a decade all staff will be on the correct step.
The district is also giving staff credit for all their years of service. Previously, staff would get one year of credit for every two years of service after reaching the 10-year mark in service with the district.
“This is allowing us to recruit a little better people that are moving to the area,” Klinginsmith said. “Other districts aren’t doing this. So it’s helping us be in a place that might be able to recruit a little…We can’t pay as high but we might be able to bring them in higher than they can make at another district.”
Klinginsmith said the district’s main issue for maintaining competitive salaries is on the back end of the salary schedule. The district is $5,000-$6,000 behind at the beginning of the salary schedule. He admitted that is not great but it is better than being $20,000-$25,000 behind on the back end of the salary schedule.
“There’s problems all the way across,” Klinginsmith said. “It’s not just our teachers. We’re looking at our administrative assistants and paraprofessionals is something we’ve talked about. We have a lot of jobs that are starting out at minimum wage. Our food service. We need to do better for those employees as well. Not just our teachers. Everyone needs to go up, all staff. We’re behind in all areas.”
The Warren County R-III Board of Education is set to consider Klinginsmith’s recommended budget at Thursday’s meeting. The open session of the meeting is slated to begin at 5 p.m.