Work continues on Kennett Consolidated School District budget for 2019-2020
By Steven Hoffman
In his Finance Committee report at the March 11 Kennett School Board meeting, school board member Michael Finnegan offered an update about the progress that has been made on developing a budget for the 2019-2020 school year.
Finnegan explained that an early version of the preliminary 2019-2020 budget had expenditures totaling more than $88.2 million. If the budget were approved with those figures, a 2.27 percent tax increase would be necessary to balance the spending plan. That’s slightly less than Kennett’s Act 1 Index limit of 2.3 percent. However, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done, and a lot of unknowns about the spending plan that exist now will be clarified in the coming weeks. For example, the state budget is not yet finalized. Finnegan explained that the proposed state budget includes an increase in the state subsidy for public schools. If that additional funding is included in the final state budget, it would help reduce the tax increase that would be necessary for the Kennett Consolidated School District to balance its own budget. Finnegan estimated that the tax increase in Kennett would be about 1.87 percent if the school district receives funding from the state at the level that has been proposed.
A presentation about the preliminary budget had been scheduled at the school board meeting in February, Finnegan noted, but that meeting was postponed because of inclement weather. There have been considerable discussions about the budget during Finance Committee meetings, which are also open to the public. Details about the spending plan are also available on the school district’s website.
Overall, projected expenditures for 2019-2020 total $88,253,792, which is approximately $2 million more than the current school year—an increase of about 2.38 percent. Salaries are increasing by about 2.50 percent. That figure will likely change as some staff members will decide to retire or leave at the end of the current school year.
Most of the increases in the 2019-2020 budget, when compared to the spending plan for the current plan, can be attributed to fixed costs like salaries and the contributions to the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System (PSERS). PSERS costs are increasing by about 2.57 percent for the next fiscal year.
New items impacting the 2019-2020 budget include $310,000 for new English Language Arts textbooks, $253,000 for CCRES aides, $50,000 for technology and equipment, and an additional $25,000 budgeted for facility improvements.
Finnegan said that work on the budget will continue in the coming months, as more accurate information about revenues and expenditures become available. The school board must adopt a final budget by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Finance Committee meetings take place on the first Monday, while school board meetings take place on the second Monday of each month.