The Claremore Board of Education adopted the final budget for the 2013-14 school year during a regular meeting Monday evening.
According to information provided at the meeting, the final budget for the district’s general fund is $27,299,273.14 with $26,089,249.66 leaving and ending fund balance of $1,210,023.48. The year-to-date ending fund balance is $2,266,940.63 as of Sept. 30.
Appropriated fund balance including general, building, child nutrition, co-op, building bonds, sinking and gift funds total $4,883,961.92 in cash assets as of Sept. 30, with a fund balance of $4,230,211.28.
Currently, 34 percent of the state budget is used to aid education, compared to 38 percent in 2004. State aid cuts are causing the district’s fund balance to go down, said Anne Wade, finance officer for Claremore Public Schools.
Since 2008, Oklahoma has experienced the third largest decrease in the nation for common education (pre-k through 12) spending.
“How we get our funding is tax-based. Everytime we reduce our state -tax, it affects schools and our funding. I believe schools have to be fiscally sound or have enough to carry over, so that we don’t have to issue non-payable warrants,” said Wade.
Wade said there is not anything wrong with non-payable warrants, it just communicates to the community that the district overspent their budget.
A non-payable warrant is where the bank covers the district until the district receives an ad valorem in January.
“Claremore’s fund balance was great last year due to $1 million in prior year money that came in after the close of the prior fiscal year. The state department of education has changed it to where all federal funds have to be recorded and submitted monthly,” said Wade. “Each district has to send in a claim every month which is supposed to expedite the reimbursement process. Hopefully that will expedite Claremore’s reimbursement.”
She said schools are having to carry all the federal funds up front before they get reimbursed.
“Sometimes it is late, sometimes they don’t pay after the close of the fiscal year, and that affects your fund balance.”
Since 2009, Claremore Schools have seen a decline in state aid of more than $2.1 million. For the most part, the district is still operating the same as it did before the cuts, said Wade.
“It’s not a fast-growing district, and administrative costs remain around the same while classroom sizes are low. How CPS will be able to sustain this and maintain fund balance is questionable, but it can be done,” she said.
Some programs have been impacted by the decline in state aid, said Claremore Superintendent Mike McClaren.
“Elementary art has been cut in three of our schools due to lack of funding, and we may need to possibly contract maintenance and custodial services out,” said McClaren. “As long as we’re trying to keep class sizes down, our margin of error is going to be critically close. We’re going to have a reverse in the funding.”