A final budget just under $700 million will make its way to the Manatee County School Board for approval Tuesday.
Tuesday’s approval is the last step in the budget process, and Superintendent Diana Greene and staff will ask the board to sign off on the $692,885,320 million spending plan. A tentative budget was adopted in July and the board members have met twice since that time to discuss different components of the budget.
“I’m glad to see that for the third year in a row we’ll have our state-required fund balance, capital investments in technology and school campus, and pay increases for our teachers and staff,” school board member Charlie Kennedy said.
Even before the tentative budget was approved, board members collectively asked the district if they would be able to divert additional money into the unassigned fund balance account, to help the district in case of another downtown in the economy and to make the district a more attractive borrower to lenders, as the district may need to bond money in the future to cover the upfront cost of building new schools.
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The 2016-17 budget meets the state-mandated amount of money in the fund balance — the state says district must have 3 percent of its expected revenue in the fund balance — but is not an increase over last year. Officials had to use some of the money the board members wanted to squirrel away in savings to cover the district’s operating costs.
Kennedy said the district financial staff has shown the ability to provide “excellent service” under tight budget constraints and rapid growth in student enrollment.
Tuesday’s 5:45 p.m. meeting is a special meeting, called specifically for board members to approve the 2016-17 budget. During the meeting, the board will also get a chance to look at where the 2015-16 budget ended.
The annual financial report for the year ending June 30, 2016, shows the district ended its third straight year with more than the state-mandated 3 percent in reserves, although the fund balance did decrease from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2016, records show.
“District leadership continues to balance the operational needs of the district, including hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers, with their desire to improve the district’s financial health,” the report states.