The Joppa-Maple Grove Unit School District board meet last week adopting its 2021 current fiscal year budget.

The balanced budget — reflecting $3.7 million in revenue and $3.9 million in expenditures — was unanimously passed Monday, Sept. 21, by Kevin Castleman, Stacey Reames, Gail Stubblefield, Denise Myers and Chris McGinness; Daniel Burnett was absent.

“Our school district remains financially secure,” noted Superintendent Dr. Vickie Artman during a public hearing held just before the regular board meeting.

Working with Justin Miller, consultant from School Financial Services, Artman said they worked through each section of the budget, “penny pinching and trying to be very factual with it.

“This budget is leaner” than the previous two years, she said. “We’ve been in the practice of dipping into our fund balance, that’s been going on the last five years and even before that. If you take the difference, it looks like it’s a $213,000 dig into our fund balance; last year, we were a little over $400,000, and the year before that, $466,000. I don’t anticipate it being this much, but sometimes we’re not sure what’s going to happen throughout the year.”

The board adopts an annual budget with the goal of matching estimated revenue and expenditures from July 1 through June 30, resulting in a balanced budget.

The district’s direct revenue represents 66% local funding, primarily through property tax, with 21.8% provided by the state and 11.7% by federal resources.

Salary expenditures represent the current negotiated rates between the Joppa-Maple Grove Federation of Teachers and board-approved increases for non-union, non-licensed personnel and administrators. Health benefits increased 4% across the board.

“We did receive a little over $103,000 from the CARES money — we spent quite a bit of that for our Chromebooks, web cams, increasing WiFi. We also have a $50,000 tech loan that we got at a really good interest rate that we’re using for the same,” Artman said. “I think buying Chromebooks for our students is probably one of the highlights of this year. They are so excited. Everybody is treating them with care.”

Artman noted the budget is taking three hard hits:

• “Fiscal year ‘21 evidence-based allocations have been based entirely in the education fund. Last year, we distributed those funds to the ed fund and maintenance. We received flat funding (with no additional money) compared to last year — $519,158.50. The loss of the new money (an typically given increase over the base amount) is another jab in this budget.”

• “We’ve taken a hard hit — $132,000 — with our CPPRT (Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax); that’s a decrease of over 17%.”

• “We are in our final year of reimbursement of $36,000 (from a reassessment of local property taxes).”

Going over the budget packet, Artman told the board additional hits will be taken in the education fund and in operations and maintenance to cover cleaning supplies.

But despite those hits contributing to a lean year, “we do have a balanced budget. We don’t have to complete a deficit reduction plan — we have the difference down to $8,298 compared to $400,000 in the past — which is huge. We’re just going to be digging into our funding balance, but we’re going to be watching everything,” Artman said.

Artman informed the board that she and Miller have been streamlining entry codes so expenditures and revenues can be more easily viewed and calculated and grants can be better financially planned.

Joppa-Maple Grove is on track to become debit free in 2023. “We purchased the QZAB (Qualified Zone Academy Bond) in 2007 to pay the costs of issuing the obligations and to finance certain renovations at the schools. We’re paying out the $59,410 each year, so our last payment is 2023. That will be very nice, but I will probably investigate and recommend we get another bond so we can purchase some of the things we’d like to do.”

During its regular meeting, the board also:

• Approved Joppa-Maple Grove policy updates.

• Approved extra-duty positions, including class sponsors and clubs.

• Held a first reading of the JAMP board policy update.

• Approved a linkage agreement with the Five County Cooperative.

• And, approved financial reports, activity funds, bills and payroll.

The school board’s next meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26.

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