Budget Draft Calls for Dip into Reserves

Article excerpt

For the first time in his 11-year tenure, Associate Superintendent Edward K. Katcher said he prepared a deficit budget for the Fort Zumwalt School District.

While the district cannot by state law incur a debt, Katcher said the budget starting in July would have to tap reserve money that the district keeps aside for emergencies.

"We cannot in any foreseeable way maintain the quality of education we offer with our present resources," he said. "If we don't get additional revenue in the 1995-96 school year, cuts will have to be made."

Katcher presented School Board members a draft of the 1995-96 budget Monday, the night before voters were to decide whether to waive a property-tax rollback worth $3 million to the district next year.

The budget calls for expenses of $62,292,481 and income of $61,562,907, which includes debt service and reserve funds, Katcher said.

Growth in the district continues to strain the budget, Katcher said, with the additional income failing to cover the additional expenses.

"The district dramatically needs new revenue," he said. "The problem won't go away because the district will keep growing, and revenue will never keep up. Class sizes will increase and, in a few years, increase dramatically. This is only the beginning of a very difficult situation."

Katcher predicted an $809,000 deficit in the operating and teachers funds. Citing examples of why a steady history of high growth has challenged the district, Katcher said teacher salaries for elementary, middle and high school combined will increase nearly $2.7 million from this year. Those salaries do not include special staff, such as counselors, librarians, building administrators or office staff, he said.

Employee payroll has increased because the district needed to hire 53 teachers this year and because teacher retirement benefits increased by state law, Katcher said. …