ROCK SPRINGS — The Sweetwater County School District (SCSD) No. 1 Board of Trustees adopted a balanced budget for the 2023-2024 school year with general fund expenditures totaling $87,835,897 during its meeting Wednesday night.
The school board voted 4-0 to adopt the budget. Chairwoman Carol Jelaco, and Trustees Stephanie Thompson, Kari Cochran, and Anjelica Wood were the ones in attendance. Trustees Andrea Summers, Cole Wright, and Danielle Schumacher were absent from the meeting.
The 2023-2024 General Fund Budget shows revenues of $81,870,953 and expenditures, meaning expenditures exceed revenues. The District will rely on the cash carryover to balance the budget. The current cash carryover from the 2022-2023 school year is $14.8 million.
Scot Duncan, SCSD No. 1 Chief Financial Officer, explained in the budget message that the cash carryover “is the direct result of reduced spending, mostly in unfilled employee positions”.
Duncan said that the budget shows $8.9 million in cash reserves by the end of the budget year.
“We set aside money so we have enough cash to pay our bills before the money from the state and the property taxes come in. So we have set aside $3 million for a minimum requirement,” Duncan said.
The budget message states, “Raising the cash reserve limit is clearly beneficial to the District, and helps manage excess tax collections without reducing the expenditure budget, and allows for certain contingencies to be set aside in cash reserves.”
Duncan said that $1 million has been set aside for contingencies.
According to Duncan, the district’s Average Daily Membership (ADM) is down from last year by about 173 ADMs. However, he said the district did get a “pretty hefty” external cost adjustment from the Wyoming Legislature this year. Therefore, with the money SCSD No. 1 gets from the Wyoming School Foundation, the district is still up about $3.4 million despite the decreased ADM.
“The District’s Foundation Guarantee and Special Education reimbursement for FY 2024 is estimated to be $78,209,893. This amount will be increased by a tax shortfall grant of $1,007,710,” the budget message states. “District funding for 2022-2023 was based on 5,072 ADM’s compared to 4,899 ADM’s for 2023-2024.”
The budget message also explains that in 2022 the Legislature increased the limit on operating balances and cash reserves that can be held at the end of the year from 15 percent to 30 percent.
The budget also shows a Capital Projects fund in the amount of $28.7 million. The budget message states that this fund allows the district to maintain the 1:1 ratio of computer devices to students, maintain the existing computer network, and upgrade District safety and security systems.
Duncan explained that the Capital Projects fund, “ serves to fund the spending priorities of the board in the way of technology, transportation, facilities, grounds, custodial. There’s money set aside for emergency generators, there’s also money set aside for technology refreshes for five years. And also this is used to capture the carry over money of the schools that they don’t spend as part of their discretionary funds.”
Chairwoman Carol Jelaco said that increases in property taxes are up about 29 percent, and she wondered how this was impacting the District.
“I’m kind of curious about what we’re realizing in increases in cost because it’s across the board,” she said.
Duncan said that SCSD No. 1 is looking at a 14 percent increase overall. He explained that part of that is due to bringing the new daycare on, which accounts for 3.5 to 4 percent of the increase. However, he said this overall increase is consistent with the industry standard.
The District‘s Insurance Fund, which shows $25.1 million in expenditures in the 2023-2024 budget, experienced a 7.58 percent decrease in total claims over the prior fiscal year, the budget message states.
The Rec Board budget, which was passed earlier in the evening, shows expenditures totaling $3.7 million. That budget will fund the Rock Springs Junior High turf field, the Overland Elementary exterior playground, and the Farson-Eden scoreboard and sound system.
To view the full 2023-2024 budget, click here.