The Weld RE-8 School District took two votes to adopt its 2022-23 budget during a regular meeting June 23.
Most of the $25 million budget goes to salaries and benefits, including pay raises for teachers, classified district employees and administrative staff. Salaries and benefits make up more than 82% of the budget.
The budget was short by an estimated $868,000, in part because of the rate of inflation that impacts such things as utilities, gas and the cost of materials. RE-8 Director of Finance and Business Services Jessica Holbrook said the district has pending grant applications with the Colorado Department of Education that could “relieve our general fund of nearly $500,000.”
In a companion vote, the board agreed to dip into this fiscal year’s beginning fund balances to more than cover that deficit. The fund balance allows the district to balance its budget so long as the purpose and amounts are clear and the use doesn’t lead to an ongoing deficit. Holbrook said taking more money than needed to cover deficits was normal.
During the board meeting, she told the board she’d rather not dip into reserve funds.
“I’d rather err on the side of having to use those beginning fund balances,” she said. “Last year, there was a higher deficit when you adopted the budget in June (the deficit was $1.8 million then). That’s why this is a best-guess scenario.”
The board earmarked the largest share of the fund balance money — almost $570,000 from a pair of mill levy override funds — to tuition reimbursement, books and workbooks and purchased services.
Another $43,000 will be used for intramural and interscholastic activities in the district, and another $41,000 was applied to ongoing improvement needs in the district.
Almost $400,000 from the district’s beginning fund balance went to buildings and grounds needs. The board also approved $7,000 from the trust and agency fund for scholarships.
The budget vote and the vote to use beginning fund balances were 6-1. Cody LeBlanc was the dissenter. A year ago, the district had a deficit of $1.8 million, and LeBlanc voted against that budget, too.
“Unbalanced budgets are a detriment to our country, and our local school district needs to lead by example to our students and our taxpayers,” he said by text. “I will always vote against unbalanced budgets.”
Superintendent Alan Kaylor’s contract was up for renewal June 23, but the board tabled discussion until August. Kaylor has not received advice from attorneys.