Wood County BOE trims budget

PARKERSBURG – Cuts had to be made to the proposed 2015 Wood County Schools budget for everything to balance out.

The board of education held a special work session Tuesday evening at the board offices to go through the expenditures in the proposed budget.

Incoming Wood County Schools Superintendent John Flint was part of the meeting and sat with current Superintendent Pat Law as each item was discussed, asking questions and making observations on what was being done.

Finance director Connie Roberts said in working on formulating a budget, one needs to start with how much money is available.

The Wood County Schools receives $71,315,541 from the state, $18,794,460 from the regulary school levy and $17,893,393 from the excess levy. That and other money from local sources, federal funds, in lieu of tax payments, carryover and other sources amounts to a total of $110,715,990 in money to work from.

Roberts plugged an assumed carryover amount of $328,246 into the budget. Last year, the school system had a carryover of $1.7 million from money throughout the district in various expenses.

Around $500,000 was put into a contingancy fund that some has had to be transferred out to cover other expenses. About $175,000 remains in the contingency.

Around $700,000 of the carryover was used last year to cover other expenses in last year’s budget.

“We were very conservative in putting this budget together and made cuts in a lot of different areas to keep from using any carryover balance,” Roberts said. “That is always my goal.”

The amount allocated for this budget is just enough to balance out the budget, she said.

“The actual carryover is projected to be much more than that right now,” Roberts said, adding the actual carryover won’t be known until the end of the current budget year.

Officials were able to save more than $1.7 million through position reductions throughout the district as well as the elimination of bonuses for unused sick leave ($475,000). Around $100,000 in Summer School expense will be paid for by grants.

“We determined the elimination of bonuses for unused sick leave would have the least impact in the classroom, least impact to our buildings and the least impact to our overall operations,” Roberts said.

The costs for substitutes continue to escalate and nothing shows having the bonus in place has cut down on substitute costs, Roberts said. Officials said tweaking of the policy, only use a certain number of sick days and you get a bonus, anything over that and the bonus could be forfeit, could be done.

“If our carryover is much larger than what we are anticipating, we can consider putting it back in,” Law said. “That is a decision to be made later on. Right now, we are trying to find places to make cuts to balance the budget.”

Salaries make up almost 79.74 percent of the budget. Substitute expenses make up 5.72 percent, operating expenses make up 9.69 percent and allocations for departments make up 4.84 percent.

Roberts said officials have looked at factors in formulating the budget, issues based on what was done the previous year, increases in expenses, possible savings that could be made and allocations.

“We made cuts where we thought we could,” Roberts said.

Officials have said policies have been put in place where schools going to the same event can share transportation.

Overtime expenses were cut and departments are being told to only keep people over in emergency situations. Maintenance costs have continued to rise.

“When you have aging buildings, maintenance costs go up,” Roberts said.

Buildings need roof repairs and other work. More than $4 million was requested, but had to be scaled back because the money was not available. About $1 million is available to “patch” the roofs.

“It is not enough,” Roberts said.