Shortly after Hamburg School District Superintendent Tracy Streeter told the school board that, “COVID has not been our friend,” the board adopted a budget for the fiscal year that projects $8,397,469 in operating costs.
District Finance Director John Spradlin said the operating costs included classified staff salaries and costs like electricity, gas, buses and building expenses.
“Often on our operating budget, we pad that quite a bit because there is so much you don’t know,” he said. “We pad a lot on maintenance-type stuff. If you will look, most of the time we are staying below budget.”
This year’s padding on the budget includes concerns about challenges the district may not have had to face in the recent past. Those concerns include the possibility of having to do extra cleaning or having to hire more substitutes than average because of absences, Spradlin said.
In addition to the operating budget, the proposed budget for certified personnel was $6,708,260.
The district plans to collect $15,478,945 in revenue during the fiscal year.
“The assessment on the property for the Hamburg School District is up a good bit from the year before, and that is a good thing,” Spradlin said.
Where the pandemic has affected the district’s revenue at this point is that collections for last year are a little late being collected, he said.
On a different revenue stream, the district has lost some state funding because of declining enrollment. Streeter told the board the district’s enrollment as of Monday was 1,630 students.
“We are facing some challenges this year, but we will face them,” he said.
The district’s debt service for the 2020-2021 fiscal year will be $815,429, which is down from $878,146 in 2019-2020.
That reduction is due in part because of refinancing of some previous debt, Spradlin said.
However, in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the district will have approximately $1.1 million in debt service because that is when the district will start paying the bond for its millage-funded improvement projects, he said.
The board voted to adopt the budget as presented.
The board too adopted policies that approved a COVID-19 leave policy for employees and a policy that would allow limited personnel to work from an alternate workplace if needed.
Streeter said only a handful of district employees would even qualify for alternative workplaces, because the state rules in place say that no one who the district would have to hire a substitute to replace can use the arrangement.
Streeter said even though only a few employees are eligible, “We are at the point where we want anything that will help anybody at any time. We are doing all we can to be sympathetic and helpful to our employees and their families.”
Also helpful during this time is the extension of the free lunch program. Streeter said that because all students have been approved for free lunch through the end of the calendar year, all students taking advantage of it need to have a free or reduced lunch application on file. Even though everyone has been approved, the forms are still required, she said.
“Those forms determine federal placement,” Streeter said. “There will come a day when those kids can’t eat free and we will have to rely on that data.”