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Feirsen Discusses Non-Instructional Aspects of District's Budget

Tuesday night presentation also summarized cost saving measures and budget drivers.

After a previous overview of the entire superintendent's budget Feb. 7, the Garden City school district presented the 2012-13 budget non-instructional expenditures, in addition to a summary of budget drivers and respective cost saving measures, at Tuesday evening's Board of Education meeting and budget session.

The presentation focused on the capital and administrative parts of the budget – representing 14.84 percent and 10.83 percent of the total budget, respectively.

"This action has remained pretty stable over the years," superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen said about the proportions of budget allocations. "It doesn't vary much from one year to another, so we are happy about that."

Feirsen said that the administrative budget is proposed at $11,370,846. He added that capital expenses account for $15,575,318 while program costs stand proposed at $78,030,587. These three sections add up to the total proposed 2012-13 budget of $104,976,751.

Looking to the future, the district is hoping to complete several capital projects. Feirsen said that "for next year these are things we would like to do." Some of the intended projects include locker replacements at the middle school, replacement of the auditorium seating at Stewart School and improvement of the front lighting at Locust School.

The main budget drivers for the upcoming year, according to the presentation, include pension and healthcare increases, debt service, 2009 bond, contractual salary hikes and special education. Pensions and healthcare account for a 1.33 percent budget impact, while the 2009 bond has a 1.12 percent budget impact. For the 2012-13 school year, the proposed budget drivers have a 4.96 percent total budget impact and a 4.49 percent tax impact.

"Spending reductions were made in the budget to reduce the budget-to-budget increase and the tax increase," Feirsen said, adding that if these reductions were not made the impact percentages would have been reflected in the proposed 12-13 budget.

Assistant superintendent for business and finance Albert Chase explained that the proposed budget calls for $6,235,289 allocated for debt services - a 55.21 percent increase over the previous budget.

"We have taken money out of the utilities, we’ve put it into debt services," Chase said. This is due, impart, to the energy performance contract. "...there is a big jump in debt service. When you put the two together they balance out."

Chase said that debt services will go up about $800,000 next year and $250,000 the year after. Feirsen added that debt services will begin to decline in 2015. Besides the 2009 investment bond, the district also has debt service in the bonds of 1998 and 2005.

The district plans to use overtime controls, energy saving, reductions in personnel and "expansion of cooperative bids," in addition to other measures, to save on costs, Feirsen said.

"We are at the point, due to the kind of perfect storm of factors, where we really have to make some very difficult choices," Feirsen said. “On the one hand … we have the need to make a budget that makes sense for our community – that people can afford and support. On the other hand, we have programs that are really important to our community, that are central to maintaining the status of this school district as one of the leaders nationally - not just locally, but nationally.”

The next budget presentation will take place Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 8:15 p.m. at Garden City High School.

kent penney February 16, 2012 at 11:47 AM
This is very dissapointing. If we don't increase spending fast, our budget won't double again by 2020, like it did over the past 10 years. This is unacceptable. How can our children learn in such an austere environment? More importantly, people won't want to move here and buy our houses if they limit our budgets to paltry 4% increases and taxes don't go up fast. Why don't we buy some (more) busses? How about Ipads for every child or maybe build a pool at the HS? Come on, we can do much better...
Geraldine Moratti February 16, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I think it's time to face facts Mr. Fiersen. The way to clean out a budget is for you to cut Administration. There is no need for all the Assistants you and the rest of Administration have. If the principals are not up to doing the job then they should be replaced. This is not a huge school district.
kent penney February 17, 2012 at 12:20 PM
"We are at the point, due to the kind of perfect storm of factors, where we really have to make some very difficult choices," Really? How come when I warned 2 years ago of the coming financial tsunami, Coleen Foley said she disagreed w/ my 'sky is falling' view? Everything I said then was obvious and based on simply math (pension smoothing, debt service schedule, exploding healthcare costs). Is it because she herself is in a union and could care less about tax payers or is it just due to ignorance. Either way, the GC taxpayer is screwed.
Jack O'Niel February 17, 2012 at 02:39 PM
The problem is the salary and benefit plans. Isn't it enough to make a good salary, great benefits and ample time off? Why do they get anything above cost of living increases? They do not make a profit, they only cost money and the year-over-year increases have to stop. Yes they are important but the cart is in front of the horse now. Teaching jobs need a capped salary and if the current crop of instructors do not want that there are plenty in school now that will love the kind of security and ability to work closer to home that will take the jobs.
Raymond Rudolph February 17, 2012 at 02:59 PM
I agree Jack, but the cart has run over the horse and the horse is in critical condition and may not make it. Time for the BOE to begin making tough decisions. We are now at a school budget of $105 mil and climbing. That is double from 10 years ago and all this occurred through one of the largest bull market in history. Now what?
kent penney March 06, 2012 at 10:29 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iD-X-jpzXQ&feature=youtu.be
z March 29, 2012 at 12:34 AM
last time i checked no teachers are retiring with multimillion dollar pension plans. Everyone continually blames teachers and their unions but one cut of an administrator would be equivalent to excessing 3-4 experienced teachers depending on their specific wages. Nice try.