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Revised Fort Zumwalt Budget Reveals Bigger Deficit

Increased expenses lead to an increased deficit for current school year, but District says it should be fine.

Fort Zumwalt knew it would be in the red this year financially, but it found out Monday night the deficit will be larger. 

Initial budget projections for the 2011-12 year had  operating with a nearly $600,000 deficit. With revenue down, the latest report has the deficit climbing to $3 million. The Board of Education approved the revised budget at Monday's meeting. 

The news of the increased deficit was not surprising to the District, but wasn't good news. 

"We were hoping we'd be reducing it at this time." Superintendent Bernard DuBray said.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Orr said a combination of things are playing into the increased deficit. For one thing, expenses have gone up. When making the projection in May for the preliminary budget, Zumwalt had no way to predict how much it would pay out in sick days to retired teachers. When teachers in the District retire they can cash in unused sick days. A number have been cashed in—more than projections. 

Another reason expense have gone up is because the District has had to add staff. An increase of students with individualized education programs (IEPs) has required Zumwalt to add paraprofessionals to the staff. 

The loss of revenue tap into the District's general fund, but Fort Zumwalt still has a fund balance of $30.3 million. 

"We're still in good shape," Orr said. "Our balances are still healthy."

Orr said the numbers could still change. State funding could pick up in the positive direction, or expenses could rise.

"This is just what we know right at this point in time," he said.

Both Orr and DuBray said that the District, and the rest of the state of Missouri need a formula fix. A proposal is being passed around the the legislative offices in Jefferson City that would change the formula for the way funding is handed out. The proposed fix would send more money to some schools—schools like Francis Howell and Fort Zumwalt. 

In other financial news, Fort Zumwalt is currently dealing with a cashflow shortage thanks to the current issues with St. Charles County. A software glitch delayed the mailing of a significant number of bills to county residents—Orr sid he still has yet to receive his—meaning the county has yet to collect a significant amount of money. 

On Dec. 15, 2010, Zumwalt received $25.5 million as the first part of the property tax payout from the county. This year the District received just $148,000. 

Orr said the District should be fine with money on hand and he said the County was promised a bigger payout in the coming weeks.

Police Presence Approved

will continue to provide security and support for Fort Zumwalt events  in St. Peters after an agreement between the two parties was reached. If it weren't for a changed vote by Renee Porter, the deal wouldn't have happened and police wouldn't be at events in 2012.

St. Peters Police Chief Tom Bishop requested the District pay officers $36 an event, an increase from the current agreement of $33. An initial vote on the item failed after Porter voted no. A total of four votes are needed to spend money, and with Laure Schmidt abstaining and Scott Grasser and Mike MacCormack absent, only one no vote was needed to defeat the item.

Porter said she didn't like that the District would be giving a nearly 10 percent increase without much, if any, negotiations. She said she wanted to go back to the police and try to work out a deal. The problem was, the current agreement was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2011. If no new deal was reached, there would be no police for January events unless the Board reached a new agreement and called a special meeting before 2011 was over. 

Not wanting to not have the police around, Porter offered to change her vote and the measure passed. 

Other Notes

  • The ID badge debate from November was picked up again Monday. DuBray said a policy has been created that would change the rule. The new policy said ID badge must be carried at all times and presented upon request and the only way to discipline students is if they refused to show the ID. The Board decided to hold off on a vote until January until MacCormack and Grasser were at the meeting. 
  • District policy has been officially changed to alter term lengths and limits to new board members. Fort Zumwalt has been designated an urban district and with that, must have members serve six-year terms, instead of the current three-year term. The new policy also says that board members can only serve two consecutive terms. DuBray said in November he's trying to get the state to change the law to allow districts to set their own rules. While a bill is being discussed, Zumwalt still have to change to the rule for the time being.

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