Kingsport schools facing 'significant shortfalls'

Rick Wagner • Oct 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The city school system’s $60 million budget appears headed to run hundreds of thousands of dollars short on revenue this fiscal year, according to the system’s budget director.

“We’re looking at some pretty significant shortfalls in our revenue,” David Frye, the system’s director of finance, said of the 2009-10 fiscal year that finished its first quarter last month.

The system and all others on the state health insurance plan got a break when a projected 10 percent increase in health insurance costs became a 4 percent increase.

In addition, he said two or three vacant teaching positions may help absorb some of the impact.

But he said those savings likely will not offset the down revenue trends and he will recommend more savings if those trends continue or get worse.

Frye told the BOE that the Basic Education program funding from Tennessee was estimated to increase $298,000 for increased enrollment based on an additional 90 students at $3,320 per student.

“We could be a few hundred thousand (dollars) short in our state revenue,” Frye said.

He said a slight surge in elementary enrollment, at the new John Adams Elementary School that opened in August and other city elementary schools that had space freed up by rezonings that accompanied the new school, have apparently been offset by slightly lower middle school and high school attendance.

“We also have seen some areas of decline,” Frye said of the middle and high school enrollments.

In county property taxes, the system had estimated revenues of $202,800 beyond estimated growth for 90 additional students at $2,253 per student.

With no appreciable increase in the city school system’s student population, he said that money likely will not materialize unless Sullivan County and/or Bristol, Tenn., enrollments are down.

Sales tax revenues for the fiscal year as of September were down 6.8 percent or $88,673 from the same three-month period last year.

In contrast, the system projected a 4.4 percent growth over last year’s actual amount, plus an additional. $101,400 for 90 additional students at $1,127 per student.

Combined, those factors could lead to a $100,000 to $200,000 shortfall in sales tax.

Frye said tuition revenues are coming in about $36,000 short of estimates, too, which happens to be the amount that 30 projected new tuition students were to generate.

On the plus said, he said the early childhood program at the Palmer Center is running an $11,000 surplus, while the three after-school programs the system operates are breaking even. Also, city revenues — an appropriation by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen not directly linked to a tax rate — are coming in as expected.

On other matters:

•Amy Greear, director of community relations, and Carolyn McPherson, assistant superintendent, got input from the board on a forthcoming online survey about the 2010-11 school system calendar. Greear said the survey should be up in a week or so at http://kingsport.schoolfusion.us, enough time for a three-week run and compilation before the November work session addresses the calendar again.

•Damon Cathey, assistant superintendent, presented the board a draft of a survey for parents on report cards, a precursor to new report cards to start in 2010-11.

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