by Jim Fredrickson
Chairman, Budget & Property Committee
ConVal School Board
It’s “Budget Season” again – that time of year when there is a lot of activity going on from a school budget and property tax bill point of view. As such, it’s time to start our annual series of articles regarding the financial aspects of running the District.
We’re going to take the same approach to these articles as we did last year. This series will address those aspects of these that are either new or specific to this year.
Prior to that, our financial articles built a base of knowledge about the school budget and the property tax process. So, if you need a refresher, those documents are still available on the School Board website Budget “Archives”: schoolboard.convalsd.net/2020/11/
With that in mind, here’s a brief preview of some the articles we’ll be publishing between now and the vote in March:
- Overview of Budget Schedule (included in this article)
- Details of proposed FY24 School Budget (also subject to voter approval in March ‘23)
- Summary of various District Trust Funds (and associated Warrant Articles)
- 2022 Property Tax Bills and Funds “returned” to towns in the School District
These new articles (as well as all previous financial publications) will all be available on the ConVal School Board website: https://schoolboard.convalsd.net/budget/
This article includes information on:
- FY24 Budget Schedule
- Budget Guidance
- Annual School Board Budget Meeting
We’ll let you know when we post new material.
FY24 ConVal School Budget Schedule
Included below are the key dates and events associated with this budget cycle. The first three have been completed:
- June 30, 2022 – last day of FY22
- “Preliminary” Property tax bills issued
- July 1, 2022 – 1st day of FY23
- Audit of FY22 financials (ongoing)
- Aug/Sept 2022 – Board developed and approved “FY24 Budget Guidance” to be used by the Superintendent and staff to develop the proposed School Budget for FY24
- November 5, 2022 – Annual School Board Budget Meeting
- November/December – Towns issue 2023 Property Tax bills
- January 2023 – Board finalizes and “approves” proposed FY23 Budget
- Public hearing on proposed Budget – January 10, 2023
- January 2023 – 2nd Board sponsored Community Forum (date TBD)
- February 7, 2023 – Deliberative Session
- March 14, 2023 – Voting day (FY24 Budget)
- July 1, 2023 – 1st day of FY24
The two most significant changes this budget cycle include:
- the “return” to taxpayers of unused funds from FY22. The exact amount will be determined when the ongoing audit of FY22 is completed, but we already know that the amount will be significantly lower than the unprecedented amount “returned” from FY21. This will be covered in detail in the next article.
- Inflation is going to be the “wild card” for FY24.
We’ve all felt the impact of rising costs and we’ve all pulled up to the pump recently and “enjoyed” the lower gas prices now compared to a few months ago. When we develop our budget, we need to acknowledge that costs are going to be higher, but just how high? The fact that the FY24 School year will run from July ’23 through June ’24 makes it more difficult.
Salaries and benefits for District staff account for more than 70% of our costs. District voters approved a three-year contract for teachers, paraprofessionals, and specialized service professionals this past March. FY24 will be the second year of the contract – which establishes the FY24 salary increase for the majority of the District’s employees. This reduces some of the uncertainty associated with estimating the effect of inflation to include in the proposed budget. Several other multi-year contracts in place also help.
The Board recently provided the Superintendent with “guidance” to be used to develop the initial FY24 budget: maintain the status quo. In other words, do not include any significant new programs but do include planned upgrades to technology, curriculum, etc.
Annual School Board Budget Meeting
The annual School Board Budget meeting will be held on Saturday, November 5th at the District offices. The Superintendent and staff presented will present the initial proposed budget. This will be an informative meeting – decisions on specific aspects of the budget will be discussed and voted on at regularly scheduled Board meetings. You will have several opportunities to review, discuss, and eventually approve it. We encourage and welcome your participation. Stay tuned for our next articles in this series – they will discuss the proposed FY24 budget and how it might impact your property tax bills.