Fremont Public Schools Adopts the 2021-2022 Budget
Fremont, Neb. – (Sep. 14, 2021) Fremont Public Schools passed their 2021-2022 Budget on a 6-0 vote during the Board of Education meeting on Monday night. The General Fund budget will decrease by 1.70% from $69,660,381 to $68,473,032. The decrease is due primarily to spending down Federal Funds that are intended to assist with the COVID-19 response. The adopted budget also includes keeping the property tax levy the same as the previous year.
Three sets of Federal allocations called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSERS) funds were awarded and budgeted for in the 2020-2021 budget year and can be expensed through September of 2023. It is anticipated that the General Fund budget will continue to decrease until all of the ESSERS funds are expensed.
Fremont Public Schools’ general fund budget covers personnel, instruction, transportation and most operating costs. Personnel costs make up 87% of the general fund, while instructional costs make up 76% of the remainder of the general fund.
A majority of the budget, 51%, is funded by property taxes. The second-largest revenue source is state aid, which funds 29% of the budget.
The Board of Education has an approved Board/District Goal related to improving the District’s financial position. An action step within the goal is to maximize our resources while creating an expenditure budget which meets the district’s needs, all while being sensitive to the needs of the district’s patrons. “This goal, established eight years ago has been a guiding principle since its inception and is again honored in the 2021-22 budget,” stated Dr. Brad Dahl, associate superintendent.
The proposed budget incorporates changes due to the negotiated agreement and increases for all employee groups of 3.50% – almost all other lines within the budget are the same as in the previous year. The exception to the above statement would be changes due to increases in State and Federal programs with offsetting revenues. The Budget reflects the addition of the Cares Act / ESSERS funding related to COVID-19 and corresponding expenditures.
The adopted General Fund budget represents a 1.70% decrease as compared to the previous year. Overall the Districts total operating (all funds) budget represents a net decrease of 1.00%. At the same time on the resource side, the District is experiencing a decrease in assessed valuation and State Aid. The decreases in the District’s two primary funding sources required utilization of $2.7 million in cash reserves. Board of Education Member Todd Hansen commented, “dipping into cash reserves isn’t desirable nor something the District can or should do on a regular basis.” Dr. Dahl followed Hansen’s comment with, “we do not take lightly utilizing cash reserves – we have spent the last eight years positioning the District to be able to take this necessary step, if the revenue position does not improve next year we will bring forward other options.”
Dahl stated that the assessed valuation decrease is due to the exemption of personal property (equipment) by several large employers in the community and the railroad coupled with both dry-land and irrigated farm land seeing a decrease. Fremont Public Schools boundaries extend beyond Dodge County to include parcels in Saunders and Douglas counties. Dodge and Douglas experienced a decrease of 3.03% and 3.59% respectively, while Saunders increased 4.19%.
Issues affecting FPS finances include state revenues not keeping pace with increased expenditures. “Last year we saw a slight increase in our student enrollment which impacts the Needs side of the state aid formula, at the same time we saw a fairly large increase in our assessed valuation. When you have a formula based on Needs – Local Resources = State Aid the end result is less State Aid this year,” stated Dahl. State support for special education and special education transportation also lag behind the actual costs related to these important services.
The district continues to be efficient with its spending. Fremont Public Schools is ranked 11th out of 244 school districts in Nebraska in per-pupil spending; only 12 districts in the state spend less per-pupil. The district spends $11,981 per-pupil compared to the state average of $13,558.
Board of Education President Sandi Proskovec noted, “The budget approved tonight accurately reflects the district’s revenues and expenditures and meets the educational needs of the district while honoring the needs of the community. Budgeting for FPS is a year-long process and one that is taken seriously with intentionality.”
The mission statement of the Fremont Public Schools is to produce creative, adaptable, productive citizens committed to lifelong learning.BACK TO TOP