WATERLOO — The DeKalb Central school board Tuesday reviewed the district’s proposed 2020 budget, which shows advertised expenses totaling $38.4 million.

Advertised expenses include: $23.7 million in the education fund; $5.15 million in the debt service fund; just under $9 million in the operations fund and $1 million in the rainy day fund.

The total tax rate is forecast to decrease by more than 5 cents, from $0.9904 per $100 of assessed valuation to $0.9387.

Chief Financial Officer Steve Snider reminded the board that the budget is advertised at maximum amounts and typically is reduced before it is approved. The 2019 advertised budget was $38.46 million and was approved at $37.99 million.

The education fund is financed by state revenue, while the operations fund is made up of property tax revenue. The rainy day fund has no specific revenue source and relies on transfers, Snider said his budget presentation.

Salaries and benefits for employees directly involved in the education of students account for 91 percent of the education fund budget, Snider said. Federal and local grants allow the district to fund more than $1 million annually, which normally would come from the education fund.

The operations fund is the sole source of funding for salaries and benefits for staff in the maintenance, custodial, transportation and grounds department, the superintendent’s office, business office and all other noneducational personnel, Snider explained. These account for slightly half of the operations fund.

The operations fund also encompasses all utility expenses and capital expenses, including bus replacements. Snider noted the district continues to transport more students to meet an increasing variety of individualized transportation needs, as well as the expanded preschool program. The ability to lock in fuel prices with contracts will continue to allow the Operations Fund to conserve funds, Snider added.

The district’s school bus replacement plan for the years 2020-2024 shows the replacement of 38 buses through a lease/purchase arrangement for a total replacement cost of $3.75 million. All the buses will be replaced in 2020, with no additional replacement in the four years following.

According to the plan, over the last four to five years, the district has pursued using propane buses over diesel buses and, where possible, has equipped its units with seat belts and stop-arm cameras.

“However, we have a number of units where we are unable to retrofit without compromising the stability of the vehicle. Upgrading our fleet faster through a leasing arrangement allows us to convert to propane sooner, allows for these necessary safety upgrades and locks in a per-unit price now, thereby avoiding any annual inflation,” the plan states.

At the end of the lease, the district will own the buses, the board heard.

There were no comments from the public on the budget Tuesday. The board will conduct another public hearing Wednesday at 6 p.m. and will adopt the budget Oct. 22.

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