By Jeff Harrison
The Mid-Del School Board approved a nearly $166 million budget for fiscal year 2023-24.
The new budget is more than $11.7 million larger than the current plan. That is largely due to a historic investment in public education from the State legislature. Lawmakers added $500 million statewide to the funding formula and $125 million to the Redbud Fund.
Mid-Del expects to receive an additional $7.2 million through additional education funds.
With the increase in state aid, schools are required to give all certified staff a pay raise. The raises are based on experience with $3,000 for teachers with 0-4 years of experience, $4,000 for teachers with 5-9 years, $5,000 for 10-14 years of experience, and $6,000 for 15+ years.
“In this budget there are a lot of added salaries and positions and also added services for students and staff for mental health,” said Jacqueline Woodard, chief financial officer for Mid-Del Schools.
The additional state aid Woodard says will be used to fund step raises for employees, raises for support staff, inflation, additional student services, and added positions. Some of the new positions include full-time in school restriction staff for all three middle schools, special education teacher at Del City High School, additional secretaries at Midwest City Middle School, Soldier Creek, and Midwest City Elementary, six literacy teachers, and reinstating executive director of secondary education.
Woodard said they will also prepare for the federal funding cliff. Federal funding for school districts across the nation has been at an all-time high due to the pandemic. Woodard said Mid-Del has used the funds to prepare, prevent and respond to COVID-19. The district is continuing to shift any ongoing expenses to local sources as the federal funding expires.
Woodard presented the budget to the board at the June 12 meeting.
School board president Silvya Kirk thanked Woodard for her team’s work on the budget and ability to clearly answer any questions.
The technology fund portion of the budget is expected to grow by about $2 million for 2023-24. Woodward says the district plans to spend an additional $1.9 million on program equipment and construction costs in the new fiscal year.
The technology center building fund budget is projected to more than double from $966,288 in the current fiscal year to $2.14 million in 2023-24. The budget includes remodeling projects, updated equipment, classrooms and software to remain current with industry standards, and maintenance.
The district’s building fund budget is projected to stay flat at about $5.54 million. Woodard expects the district to see a 2% increase in local ad valorum taxes, and additional money from the state’s Redbud Fund, but says it’s too early to tell how much. The Redbud Fund uses money from the medical marijuana industry to help schools with low ad valorem per pupil, including Mid-Del.
“The first two years of the Redbud Fund have been a bit underwhelming, but if the state backstops it with $125 million in allocated funds, not just the marijuana industry, that’s good,” said superintendent Rick Cobb. “We don’t want to overestimate that, and we’ll count it when we see it.”
The building fund is also used to pay utility costs which are expected to rise.
The child nutrition budget is expected to grow slightly for 2023-24. The district is planning to expand its free breakfast and lunch program – Community Eligible Provision. The CEP program allows students to eat free breakfast and lunch without completing the federal free and reduced lunch application. The district currently has three CEP schools with Midwest City Elementary, Del City Elementary, and Epperly Heights Elementary, but will add four more schools – Country Estates, Townsend, Parkview and Del City Middle School. Woodard said the entire district qualifies for CEP but does not have funding for all schools.
The sinking fund budget, which is used for debt service, increased by more than $1 million for 23-24.
The district expects to have reserves of general fund ($7.38 million), Technology Center Fund ($7.23 million), building fund ($2.35 million), child nutrition ($1.05 million ), technology center building fund ($9.72 million), sinking fund ($4.64 million).