Highlights of the Community Budget Forum June 27, 2019
Lincoln Public Schools officials on Thursday presented the preliminary budget for 2019-20 at a Community Budget Forum held at North Star High School, and asked for community comments.
The preliminary budget includes:
- No increase in the current property tax levy.
- Funding for continued student growth.
- Funding that addresses complexity of student needs to promote student success.
- The understanding that high-quality public schools at a reasonable price bring tremendous value to our community.
One member of the public attended the public forum and had questions about possibly increasing the number of staff in the coming years.
LPS prudently plans for the long-term, as 2019-20 state aid for education is decreasing $13.7 million compared to last year. Revenue increases related to property valuations and the use of cash reserve will be necessary to fund the 2019-20 budget. LPS saved money in cash reserve in previous budgets to provide stability in a climate of dramatically changing revenues.
The 2019-20 preliminary expenditure budget for LPS totals about $458.6 million, representing a slight decrease from first estimates due to an extension grant awarded to LPS that will provide funding for two early childhood full-day classrooms.
The expenditure budget is funded by several revenue streams, including: property taxes (estimated to increase by 6.5 percent, providing about $14.8 million more revenue than last year), and state aid to education (projected at $133 million, down $13.7 million compared to last year). The preliminary budget also includes drawing $3.46 million from cash flow – about half of what the Board wisely set aside last year. Cash flow is a tool to stabilize swings in revenue through transfers into and out of cash flow with the goal of ensuring that programming and staffing decisions are sustainable over time.
In the past months the Board has reviewed about $18.6 million in identified needs, prioritized them and ultimately built a preliminary budget that left almost $4 million in needs unfunded. Tentatively funded for the coming year are:
Support to schools to keep up with continued, incremental growth, adding teachers/staff for regular education, special education and early childhood.
Supports that allow students the foundation to learn, adding school counselors, social workers and health care workers.
Expansion with more teachers at behavioral skills schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
LPS has a solid process for budget development, using a three-year forecasting and sustainability model to manage and stabilize the swings in state funding revenue. In the coming months the Board will continue to analyze needs district-wide, establish priorities, develop a revenue budget to best meet student needs and have a thoughtful conversation with the community. The largest budget line on the LPS budget consistently funds teachers and classroom instruction – prioritizing our students.
According to the most recent statistics, as prudent stewards of taxpayer money, LPS is one of the lowest spending school districts in the state for per-pupil costs and has been for decades. LPS ranks 224 out of 244 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending: $11,508 per pupil compared to the state average of $12,613.
Community budget conversation
LPS has a long-standing transparent, open process for budget development – inviting community members into the development of the 2019-20 budget in a variety of ways. A public hearing and budget forum are set for 6-6:45 p.m. on Aug. 13 at LPS District Office.
Published: June 27, 2019, Updated: June 27, 2019