NL school board approves preliminary budget

By Jean Faucher

The New London School Board unanimously approved a preliminary budget of $ 33.3 million for 2021-2022 at its regular meeting on September 13.

The approval followed the district’s annual budget hearing held earlier in the evening.

Director of Business Services Joe Marquardt presented a budget breakdown at the hearing.

“Really the first thing, since we are a public entity, we are talking about property taxes and this year’s projection is very good news related to that,” said Marquardt. “This year’s budget provides for a 4.5% reduction in the tax levy and a 4% cut in overall spending.

Marquardt said the reduction in levies was tied to the additional Equalization assistance income expected from the 2021-23 biennial state budget and Equalization assistance income that offsets what is paid by homeowners. land.

Marquardt said the 4% drop in spending is linked to the state’s freeze on revenue cap increases and a reduction in spending on capital projects for the Parkview and Readfield Elementary projects in the summer of 2020.

State, federal variables

“Freezing the income limit per member [student] is an important variable to explain to the community, ”said Marquardt.

While the state has increased overall spending from Kindergarten to Grade 12, it has not allowed districts to increase spending per student.

He noted that the spending increases relate to one-time federal revenues or elements of emergency funding for elementary and secondary schools (ESSERs).

“These expenses do not increase the levy. It was federal dollars given to states to give to their school districts based on demographics, ”Marquardt said.

“This is the largest increase in federal funding that I have seen since the late 2000s, when American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding was available to districts,” said Marquardt.

Marquardt reminded council that these are one-time funds that are useful in balancing the district budget; however, he warned that unless state increases are part of future budgets, the sustainability of the district will be in question.

“The last time we saw these funds, a few years later, we saw cuts in the state budget again to deal with deficits,” Marquardt said.

Reduced grinding rate

Marquardt indicated that in the 2021-2022 budget, the thousandth rate, or tax rate, is expected to decrease by 12%. He attributed significant growth in property valuation and noted the board’s decision to raise an additional $ 146,000 in 2021-2022 because the district was considered a low-income district and that aid in equalization increased the state budget.

The revenue assumptions for New London include an estimated increase of $ 641,990 in state aid, a 4.5% decrease in property tax and an 8.5% increase in property valuation.

“The appraisal changes impact the thousandth rate, but don’t provide more revenue for the district. If the property valuation goes up, the thousandth rate goes down, ”Marquardt said.

The preliminary budget reflects a 13.7% drop in the thousandth rate from 7.95 to 6.91 per thousand of the assessed property value.

“The thousandth rate will be the lowest I have ever seen since the early 1980s,” Marquardt wrote in a budget summary.
He also reminded board members that the numbers are projections as of the end of August and that final levy and expense totals may change until levies are certified on October 25.

Other budget assumptions

The proposed budget assumes a decrease in withdrawals from Fund 38 of $ 850,000 due to a lower debt payment for the Parkview and Readfield Elementary projects.

The budget also reflects an expected one-time income of $ 87,815 from the sale of surplus assets to Readfield.

Expense assumptions

Spending assumptions in the budget include a 7% increase in health and dental plans; an increase of one FTE (full time equivalent) for certified staff and an increase of 1.75 FTE for support staff.

The budget provided for a salary increase of 1.23%, an additional $ 75,000 for additional compensation.

The budget also assumes a reduction in enrollment of 68 FTE students due to downsizing of incoming classes and a net loss of 117 FTE students enrolled.

Marquardt noted that many of the students who enrolled outside the district never attended district schools. The net expense of payments to other districts for open registrations is $ 986,769.

Marquardt informed board members that the full impacts of the vouchers for private schools will not be known until October. That number, he said, typically represents around one percent of the total levy.

ESSER financing income

The district budgeted $ 200,000 in federal spending related to Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief II out of the $ 811,000 available for New London, and did not spend any of its remaining $ 1.9 million in ESSER III funds. .

Marquardt said the discussion on ESSER funds will evolve if necessary. The district has two fiscal years to spend the funds.


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