North Summit and South Summit officials say budgets reveal financial stability | ParkRecord.com

North Summit and South Summit officials say budgets reveal financial stability

All is well for the North Summit and South Summit school district’s pocketbooks.

That’s the message the districts are sending after each approved budgets for the 2015-2016 fiscal year in recent weeks.

Kip Bigelow, business administrator for South Summit, said the district is right where it wants to be. There were no major changes from previous years in the recently passed budget, which includes north of $12.5 million in general fund expenditures. The fund balance is just more than $5 million.

"I’m not saying we’re not without our challenges, but we are in good health," he said. "We continue to monitor revenue and expenses. We try not to be extravagant in the things that we do. The goal is to use that money to educate students."

Some of the small changes in the budget include money for 1.5 additional teachers (FTEs) at South Summit High School and small raises for teachers throughout the district. Bigelow said teachers will be given a 2 percent cost-of-living increase, funded through an increase in the weighted pupil unit (the measure by which the state funds public education).

The general fund budget does reflect an expectation to be operating in the red, but Bigelow said that is intentional. The budget typically overestimates spending, and the district is trying to put every dollar into the classroom rather than build up large reserves.

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"We do have some reserves that we can work with, if necessary, but usually there’s some budget savings by the end of the year so that we more than make up for it," he said.

South Summit is not raising property taxes, though residents will see an increase due to controversial statewide legislation that takes tax dollars from wealthier districts and gives them to poorer districts.

"I know a lot of people don’t understand that it’s nothing we did," Bigelow said. "But it’s really a state-assessed amount."

North Summit is also in good financial health, said business administrator Rex Smith. The district is expected to bring in slightly more than the roughly $8.5 million it’s slated to spend this year, leaving the general fund with a balance of just more than $700,000.

"That’s about average, about where we should be," Smith said. "We’d like to be a little higher than that, but this is about normal for a district like us."

North Summit is also not raising property taxes, and the weighted pupil unit increase is funding a 2-percent step-and-lane salary increase for teachers.

Smith said the district’s projected capital reserves of nearly $5.5 million are also strong. The district will put roughly $1 million into new turf on the athletic field and other land renovations.

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an earlier story that misstated the amount of money the North Summit capital plans to put into new turf.