The Eastern Pulaski School Board got an update Monday on the corporation’s 2018 budget proposal. Superintendent Dan Foster said there are no big surprises.
Instead, the challenge is to budget enough money to deal with a few uncertainties, like utilities, gas prices, and health insurance costs. “We add a little extra there because we don’t know right now,” Foster explained. “We haven’t had our MASE insurance trust meeting, so we don’t know what the percent will be. The way it’s written in the trust, it’s an automatic 10-percent increase. So the trust actually has to vote to have anything lower than that. Right now, our claims history, I’ve talked to some folks that have been in the trust 15, 20 years in there. It’s never been over six or seven percent.”
Teacher salaries can also be hard to predict, according to Foster. “Just because a teacher may retire with 30 years’ experience – I’m telling you, it’s a limited pool right now of applicants – and you may replace that person with somebody with 30 years’ experience,” he said. “So you don’t gain anything on the salary schedules there. Sometimes you can replace a retiring teacher with a teacher that doesn’t have quite as much service, and you do save a little bit of money. So you kind of have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
The proposed 2018 budget calls for a General Fund of almost $9 million. School administrators also plan to make $1 million of the corporation’s Rainy Day Fund available for possible use next year. “We thought it would be easier to put some money in there, just in case, because we were looking at enrollment and what happened last year, and if we would need to do something quickly, we would not have to go through the process of the additional appropriations,” Foster said. “So we did go ahead and budget for Rainy Day this year as well. We hope not to have to use it, and if we don’t, then next year when we’re doing this, we reduce the 2018 appropriations from Rainy Day, and then we can put it into 2019.”
The Eastern Pulaski School Board voted Monday to proceed with publishing the 2018 budget proposal. The public will have a chance to weigh in, before the budget is formally adopted.