District 26 planning balanced budget for next school year

Restores staff, includes $1.4M reduction in general state aid

CARY – For the fifth consecutive year, School District 26 anticipates running a balanced budget, after years of running operating budget deficits.

The $29.7 million spending plan includes bringing back dedicated teachers for classes such as foreign language, technology, health and band.

The district is projecting a $561,000 surplus, according to budget documents.

Dedicated staff members to teach foreign language, health and computer technology at Cary Junior High are part of the Phase 2 return of specials. Specials were part of the major cuts the district underwent several years ago.

The district is increasing its staff by 10.5 positions.

“I’m excited, this is our fifth year of a balanced budget, and this next year will complete all of our restoration of all the specials,” Superintendent Brian Coleman said. “It’s a huge budget. ... This is what we wanted to get to.”

District officials, however, caution there are still unknowns when putting together their spending plan, including the outcome of contract negotiations with the district’s teachers’ union, possible changes to general state aid and whether the district would have to contribute toward teacher pensions.

The district did include a $1.4 million reduction in general state aid as part of its budget assumptions, as there is proposed legislation that would change the foundation level and lead to changes in general state funding.

“This still could impact our budget next year, and we’ve always run the philosophy: Plan for the worse, hope for the best, [and] be conservative,” Coleman said.

Director of Finance and Operations Jeff Schubert said if the bill were to be approved, the district could start running deficits in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

“The impact is compounded year after year,” Schubert said.

The budget does include setting aside money for a possible pension shift toward school districts.

The district anticipates a 1.7 percent increase in salaries, which is the increase in the consumer price index.

District officials also plan to look at purchasing science textbooks during the 2014-15 school year.

After a year with several capital projects, the district plans to carry out only a roof replacement at Deer Path School and is budgeting $500,000 during fiscal 2015. Part of the $880,000 project is being paid for in the current fiscal year.

District receives financial reporting award

For the second consecutive year, District 26 received the Excellence in Financial Reporting Award for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, according to a news release.

The award is given by the Association of School Business Officials International. The district’s financial report includes trend and demographic information, key financial developments, and an overview of the district and its operations.

“Receiving the Certificate of Excellence Award is recognition of our commitment to financial recovery, accountability and transparency,” Schubert said.

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