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Lindbergh Makes Cuts to Ensure Balanced Budget

Lindbergh board avoids deficit spending; tax hike brings revenue back to 2008 level.

Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane said there are three very important facts regarding the district's recently approved $61 million budget.

"Number one, this is a balanced budget. Number two, this is a balanced budget. And number three, this is a balanced budget," Lanane reported to the Lindbergh board.

The board unanimiously approved the budget for the upcoming school year during its meeting on Tuesday at the district's Early Childhood Education Center.

Key to the board's budgetary strategy is ensuring the district does not have any deficit spending, which would require borrowing funds, according to school officials.

"Now that we righted the ship, we must stay on balanced budget water," Lanane said, referring to the district's multi-year effort to buoy itself from $18 million in revenue lost in the past several years. Lindbergh has cut more than $6 million in expenses in that time.

Part of that recovery effort also stemmed from an operating levy increase of $0.65 per $100 of assessed value voters approved in 2010. The levy increase added more than $8 million in revenue for the district during the current school year, but the economic downturn has kept the district in troubled financial waters, according to Lanane.

The additional $8 million merely restored the district to its 2007-2008 revenue level—prior to significant increases in student population and infrastructure costs.

Further exasperating the budgetary woes, the district will collect about $230,000 less in revenue in the coming school year in comparison to the current school year.

"Another year of revenue decline even after a tax increase—this is absolutely unheard of," Lanane said.

Coupled with expected expenditures to increase by $195,000 and increased cost for health insurance benefits and a 1.78 percent salary increase for all staff, the board was forced to carve out further reductions. Staff salaries and benefits comprise a majority (78 percent) of the district's total costs, excluding bonds for capital projects.

The board approved reductions to unemployment payments, office equipment, summer school for elementary and middle school students, textbooks and facility operations. The reductions allowed a projected budget surplus of a little more than $29,000.

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