The Delaware Board of Education unanimously approved the school district’s latest five-year forecast at its meeting Monday.
Treasurer Melissa Lee said the district would spend more than it made in fiscal 2016. There were an estimated total revenues of $51,358,359 and total expenditures of $51,585,517, or $227,158 more in expenditures. Subtracting that from the beginning cash balance of $8,049,887, there would an ending cash balance of $7,822,730.
The expenditures were estimated to continue to exceed revenues through 2020, with expenditures exceeding $60 million and revenues just under $50 million in 2020. After 2016, the gap continues to grow.
Based on those estimates, the district would continue to maintain a positive cash balance in 2017, but would begin to have a deficit in 2018, ballooning to $30 million in 2020.
Lee said the forecast assumes a growth in the real estate tax, an increase in state funding, and the phasing out of the tangible personal property tax reimbursement on the revenue side. Expenditure assumptions include increases in wages, health insurance premiums, and adding 23 staff members.
There are uncertainties as well, such as whether funding will allow for planned increases in staffing, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “Cadillac Tax” on the expenditure side. For revenues, there are uncertainties such as a real estate reappraisal in 2017, funding formula caps, and the passage of a substitute emergency levy in March 2016.
“DCS Board of Education passed a resolution on Oct. 5 to place a substitute levy on the March 2016 ballot,” said district spokeswoman Jennifer Ruhe in an email. “This levy would substitute for the current emergency operating levy which was passed in 2011. The substitute represents a renewal of the levy and would be mean no increase in taxes for current residents. A substitute levy does allow the district to capture the growth from new construction over the life of the levy.”
The district’s enrollment, currently at 5,726 for grades pre-K through 12, is expected to grow slowly to 5,906 in the 2021-22 school year. To account for the added students, the district is renovating and expanding its buildings.
The board also voted to approve insurance carriers for the district: MetLife; United Healthcare; Delta Dental; EyeMed Vision Care; and Trustmark.
Superintendent Paul Craft asked for a moment of silence to mark the recent deaths of Deborah Weiker, former administrative assistant at Woodward Elementary School; and Harry Humes and Robert Whiteside, who were both former board members and longtime community residents.