Making Sense of the Dollars & Cents

By FPS Business Manager Broc Lietz

At the September 10, 2013 School Board meeting, the Board of Education gave final approval to the Fargo Public School’s 2013-14 General Fund budget, which will now be submitted to the County Auditor for certification.

Logo for Fargo Public SchoolsThe General Fund budget shows revenue growth of 6.58% over the 2012-13 actual expenses, or $8,276,330, bringing the total General Fund Revenue to $134,117,835 for 2013-14. The primary factor in the revenue increase is the new funding formula for K-12 education passed by the 2013 Legislature. This new formula increases the state per pupil aid payment to $8,810 per student versus $3,980 in 2012-13. The difference in foundation aid is not reflecting all new money, as the increase takes into account what was previously received in State Property Tax Relief and a portion of Local Property Tax. This budget is based on the district levying 139 General Fund Mills, which is a reduction of 52.18 mills from the 2012-13 total of 191.18 mills. This reduction in general fund mills actually exceeds the statutory requirement placed on Fargo Pubic Schools, and sees the district levying less than allowable under our excess mill levy authority granted by the tax payers in our district.

On the expense side, the budget reflects a 6.69% increase over 2012-13 actual expenses, or $8,407,897, bringing the total General Fund Expenses to $134,117,835. The primary increases in expenses are reflected in salary and benefits as Fargo Public Schools remains committed to attracting and retaining the highest quality employees. Salary Expense (with a 5.19% increase over 2012-13) reflects the most recent negotiated agreement with FEA and other employees, and some minor increases in staffing in areas such as proctors, aides/para-professionals, and instructional support. Employee Benefits (with a 6.48% increase) accounts for the legislative mandated increase in NDPERS retirement and the annual increase in both health and dental insurance. Contracted Instructional Services has an increase due to federal sequestration. The Operational Maintenance line increases by just over $1.9 million dollars. This is due to the facilities assessment that was done a year ago and the efforts of the Long Range Facilities Plan process, which identified ongoing maintenance items that need to be addressed. The Supply budget line is increased to cover unmet needs in the district, to include a per student PE amount in the middle and high schools for addressing Physical Education resources. Equipment also increased significantly, as we are developing a more regular district-wide replacement cycle for equipment.

The 2013-14 General Fund budget meets the needs of the Fargo Public Schools, as well as honoring the legislative intent of providing property tax relief to local tax payers. We will continue to be good stewards of public funds while striving for educational excellence.

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