On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, during a meeting of the Lexington County School District One Board of Trustees, district administrators presented the second reading of a proposed 2020–2021 general fund operating budget that is less than this year’s general fund operating budget.
In the second reading of the proposed budget, Lexington District One administrators recommended a 2020–2021 budget adjustment to $287,169,334, an increase of $67,990 since the May 19 first reading recommendation of $287,101,344. The proposed budget consists of approximately 87.7% salaries and related costs, 7.7% for programs and services, and 4.6% for utilities and maintenance.
District administrators reduced the decrease to school allocations presented in the first reading. The reduction to the cut comes from the district’s effort to build some funds into the general fund budget to offset cuts that schools will see due to the district’s continued efforts to reduce or eliminate board-approved fees parents pay each year. It offset that decrease with a $67,990 increase in the amount of operational fund balance used to fund the budget.
The second reading of the budget also includes a 10-cent increase in school meal prices, which are set based on guidance from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Paid Lunch Equity program. Breakfast goes from $1.50 a meal to $1.60, while lunch goes from $3.00 to $3.10. The reduced meal prices remain 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch.
The 2020–2021 $287,169,334 general fund operating budget proposes a 2.7 percent decrease from the prior year (down $7,954,415), based on the current operating budget of 2019–2020 of $295,123,749. It also reflects a decrease of 2.75% in salaries and related costs as well as a 2.3% reduction in programs and services.
District administrators conservatively planned the proposed general fund operating budget in preparation for the possibility of future state budget cuts or reductions in revenue and with the intent to prepare for the need for additional program cuts, employee furloughs or other challenges as the 2020–2021 budget year progresses.
As a reminder, the district’s general fund operating budget provides funding for the day-to-day operations of the district, such as paying salaries, insurance and utilities, and purchasing supplies, materials and services. This is not to be confused with the district’s capital budget, which funds fixed assets such as facilities and equipment.
The district anticipates a 2% student increase — an additional 527 students and 15.5 FTE. This proposed budget is smaller, however, than the district’s current (2019–2020) general fund operating budget. To achieve this, it maintains employee salaries and steps at the current level until the state passes an appropriations bill, and includes cuts to programs and services, fees and other areas.
The proposed budget meets state and federal requirements, includes inflationary costs and provides for the opening of Centerville Elementary School, the restructuring of Gilbert Elementary School, the relocation of Pelion Middle School and the opening of the district’s College Center located at Gilbert High School.
District administrators felt it important to consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, county and state tax revenue, and local assessment projections. As a result, district administrators used cautious projections for revenue, and did not recommend a millage increase for operations.
District administrators continue to monitor the economy and any future budget action of the General Assembly. Although the General Assembly passed a continuing budget resolution for the upcoming year, they did not pass a 2020–2021 appropriations bill. Should there be changes in the state budget or revenue once the General Assembly passes a 2020–2021 appropriations bill, the district can amend its general fund operating budget as needed.
On June 16, 2020, the board holds a budget presentation and public hearing before the regular monthly board meeting. District administrators will present the proposed 2020–2021 general fund operating budget for third reading and board approval during the regular monthly board meeting.