Sterling schools project $1.2 million surplus

September 18, 2018

STERLING – Sterling schools are getting more money from the state this year – money that will be put back into the classroom – but that doesn’t mean Superintendent Tad Everett is ready to breathe a sigh of relief just yet, maybe just breathe a little easier.

Ahead of Wednesday night’s school board vote on the district’s budget, Everett said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the district’s fiscal year 2019 numbers. The board is scheduled to approve a budget with $33,677,330 in revenue and $32,419,650 in expenses, giving the district a $1,257,680 surplus.

A big chunk of that surplus comes from the nearly $1 million more in state aid the district got this year, from about $270,000 in FY 2018 to $1,069,000 for FY 2019. The increase comes from the state’s switch from a general state aid formula to evidence-based funding, the goal of which is to create a more equitable funding model for school districts, ensuring smaller district’s get an equitable piece of the pie.

The old formula doled out money based on daily attendance; the new formula is based on enrollment and other factors such as property values and how many students live in poverty or have limited English proficiency.

Everett said the extra money will be invested where it’s needed the most – in the classroom.

“We’re going to continue to reduce class sizes and improve our math and special education instruction by hiring more teachers, ensure safety by installing more cameras and hours for the school resource officer, and create more positions for students’ social and emotional support,” Everett said.

Everett’s cautious outlook stems from last year’s budget, when the district saw a more modest increase – $250,000 – in state funding, and the uncertainty of state politics looming on the horizon.

“It was a non-traditional year. We were reducing class sizes, spending less on insurance and saw more money in state funding,” Everett said. What’s more, “we’re not sure what funding will look like after the election, so we’ve budgeted very conservatively for the year to make sure there aren’t any unforeseen expenses moving forward.”

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