The budget for fiscal year 2018-19 (FY19) was unanimously approved by the Creston Community School District Board of Directors during Monday’s special meeting to certify the budget.
The board received no written or oral comment for or against the budget, and no one was present for the public hearing.
The FY19 budget includes a slight increase to the levy rate for the former Creston School District, rising from $16.51839 per $1,000 valuation to $16.55824 per $1,000 valuation, for an increase of under 4 cents per valuation.
The levy rate for the former Prescott district is also being raised until it matches the levy rate for the former Creston district, which is being done over a four-year transition period.
“We are raising this year based off of we wanted to get a little more cash to help our solvency ratio,” CCSD Business Manager Billie Jo Greene said.
The school’s solvency ratio provides a picture in time of the financial health of a school district. The Iowa Association of School Boards describes watching the solvency ratio trend is one element as a “quick indication” of a school’s financial health. The IASB recommends a targeted percentage for a school district to be between 5 and 10 percent.
At the end of the 2016-17 school year, CCSD’s solvency ratio sat at -1.76 percent. However, Greene estimated the district’s solvency ratio to be at 2.74 percent by the end of this school year.
That number has recovered from the low point following the 2015-16 school year, when the district’s solvency ratio was -8.64 percent.
“Part of this solvency ratio turnaround, too, has to do with cuts we’ve made and are maintaining over time to get benefit from those cuts every year,” CCSD Superintendent Steve McDermott said during a March budget workshop. “From the 2015-2016 school year to the 2017-18 school year, we’ve made a 10 percent difference in solvency. Plus 10 percent. That’s pretty big.”
Board Member Sharon Snodgrass noted the district did not raise the levy rate last year, even though it appeared that way because of property valuations.
“I looked at my property tax thing and it says for our school district, 5-point whatever percent up,” Snodgrass said. “We didn’t raise taxes last year. We have to keep explaining that to people.”
“But your valuation, which we’re out of control of, goes up,” McDermott added.