School board approves almost $83 million budget for 2017-18 fiscal year

Published 10:15 am Friday, July 21, 2017

The Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the system’s operating budget for the 2017-18 school year during the regularly scheduled board meeting Thursday.

The 2017-18 budget includes projected district-wide revenues totaling $82.742 million and district-wide expenditures totaling $82.587 million. Revenue and expenditures at those amounts will give VWSD $22.884 million in its operating fund.

The final numbers are a reduction from the proposed $84.125 million in revenue and expenditures that was originally projected at the board’s July 9 meeting.

“The $84 million was an estimate based on our primary revenue sources,” Shaquita Burke, the VWSD director of financial operations, said. “Looking at all of our major accounts, I included some grants that we anticipated. We may or may not get that. When I build the budget, I have to build the budget based on what I actually know is coming in as a revenue source.”

Burke said she also removed the student activity funds from the revenue calculation because the total is “volatile” and fluctuates from year to year

“Our student activity account, if they raise money we increase their budget by the amount of dollars they raised so they can spend it,” Burke said. “Let’s say you start the year out with a student activity account of $1,000 and you go and you raise $10,000. In order for you to spend that money, I have to increase your budget by that $10,000 of revenue.”

Of the projected $82.742 million in revenue for the 2017-18 school year, $30.470 will be collected via ad valorem taxes levied by the Warren County Board of Supervisors. The VWSD requests a dollar amount and the Board of Supervisors sets the millage rate that is projected to create that amount of funding.

The millage rate for VWSD was 53.58 for the 2016-17 school year. Burke said they have requested $30.470 in funding, which will keep the millage rate the same for the 2017-18 school year based on the county’s projected property appraisals.

“Vicksburg Warren School District is not putting in a request that should effect our tax at all based on the information I have at this time,” Burke said.

Although the millage rate is projected to stay the same, the actually revenue collected by VWSD is expected to drop from $30.659 million in 2016-17 to $30.470 million this year due to a projected decrease in property values in the county. The numbers will not be finalized until October when property taxes are collected.

The projected drop in property values is one of the factors in the projected budget decreasing from $84.125 million to $82.742 million.

“The biggest hit to us revenue-wise would be because of our ad valorem requests going down,” Burke said. “We are requesting the amount that will get us the same level of millage. I requested a dollar amount based on the assessment that will get me to my 53.58 mills.”

The originally projected budget included $84.125 in expenditures for the 2017-18 year. With the deduction in projected revenue, the planned expenditures were cut to $82.587 million. Burke said there were cuts across the board, but no planned special projected were impacted.

“We looked at projects we did last year that we didn’t need to do this year,” Burke said. “We did MDE [Mississippi Department of Education] projects of almost $500,000 for doors and hardware that was part of an MDE audit that we didn’t need this year. That came out first. We did a technology infrastructure upgrade last year that was $700,000 that we don’t need this year. We go in and look at all the projects we did last year that we are not anticipating needing this year.”

As part of approving the budget, the VWSD board also approved the special projects planned for the 2017-18 school year. Those projects include adding junior high dance and high school bowling, football bleacher upgrades, a Vicksburg High School softball field house, a VHS baseball hitting facility and locker room upgrades. There are also plans to purchase two school buses, four driver’s education cars, new pre-K classroom setups, make an upgrade to the VHS bathrooms and program expansions at VHS, Warren Central and River City Early College.

The budget includes a projected $44.294 to be spent on instructional programs, $3.808 million to be spent on administration costs and $4.429 million to be spent on transportation.