Measure recommended for reducing costs in face of budget challenges
May 13, 2011
By JIM HARDIN Herald-Banner
ROCKWALL — Outsourcing for Rockwall Independent School District transportation and custodial services advanced another step this week with school officials announcing their provider recommendations.
During a school board work session Monday night, Mike Singleton, the school district’s chief financial officer, recommended Durham School Services as the transportation provider.
And Greg Carver, executive director of facilities, planning and construction, recommended SSC Service Solutions as the provider for custodial services.
Outsourcing for transportation and custodial services is on a list of recommended “expenditure reductions” for the 2011-12 school budget. Outsourcing for transportation is expected to save $500,000 during the next school year and outsourcing for custodial services is projected to save $615,000.
The school board is scheduled to consider approving both outsourcing recommendations at a meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. May 23.
School board members also will receive the preliminary budget at the May 23 meeting and set a public hearing date. Another work session is scheduled for June 6. A public hearing is scheduled for June 20. The budget also is expected to be approved at the June 20 meeting. The school district’s new fiscal year begins July 1.
At the beginning of the work session, Superintendent Jeff Bailey provided a review of proposed funding cuts to public education in Texas.
He said the legislature had 21 days remaining “for them to be able to try to resolve the funding and appropriations of the Senate and House bills.”
Bailey said the House version of public education funding cuts still is $7.8 billion. The Senate version is $4 billion.
A special session of the legislator is possible if legislators can’t resolve the funding issue.
The projected loss in state funding to Rockwall ISD is $19,471,386.
“We want to prepare a budget based on funding that will have little impact on students in the classroom,” Bailey said.
“We continue to work the budget,” Singleton told board members. “We continue to find areas we can move into some savings and things like that. We’ve gone through the process the last several weeks of getting input from all our campuses and all of our departments so that we can put it into our budgeting system.”
He said the school board must approve a budget in about a month and “even though we don’t know exactly what the legislature is going to do at this point in time, we can’t wait. We’ve got to anticipate what may happen.”
With revenue additions and expenditure reductions — including $4.1 million in staffing cuts — the school district still may have to use about $10.2 million from its general fund balance to balance the 2011-12 budget.
“We’ll be using some fund balance, a substantial part at this time,” Singleton said. “Now, remember, this is a worst case scenario. We hope to come in less than this. At this point, we’re planning that this might be what we’re stuck with.
“It’s still pretty drastic, but it’s something that we will work for as we continue in the budget process to June.”
The $10.2 figure could be reduced, Singleton said. He said about $2.9 million will be moved over to the general fund from the health insurance fund and it appears the school district will come in under budget when the current fiscal year ends.
According to previous discussions, the school district could use about $5 million from its fund balance — or reserve fund — without affecting its bond rating or the requirement to have sufficient funds to cover three months of operating expenses.
School Trustee Chris Cuny said the report was “great news,” adding that the current funding challenge is not all “doom and gloom.”
Bailey warned, however, that “there’s still the unknown when we’re talking about appropriations.”
He said school officials are estimating that Rockwall’s funding cut will total $19.4 million.
“That potentially could be higher, depending on which plan the legislature selects,” Bailey said.
The superintendent said he has seen higher cuts recommended for school districts that have target revenue.
“We’re one of those because we’re above the $5,000 per kid,” Bailey said. “We’re going to be the one who is hit the hardest.”