Interim Superintendent Dean Katt has been working with administrators to finalize this year’s budget so the district can prioritize spending and move forward with certain projects. Katt told Hays Post that while he’s very familiar with school finances, he’s had to get familiar with USD 489’s budget.
Katt said that it’s common for districts to inflate certain areas in the budget and reallocate funds from one section to another. One thing he’s learned through various meetings is which budget items were over-inflated, and what funds have already been moved around. He says that meeting with those who developed the budget and getting everyone on the same page was a big first step.
“We have some idea now but it’s going to take a little bit of time. I can’t say we’re not worried obviously we have a very tight budget which isn’t unusual for Hays I understand. And figuring all that out, it’s just a different philosophy than what I’m used to: I’m just not used to that tight a budget. Obviously we need to make some adjustments and see how we want to get through until we have our audit.”
He says that the budget also doesn’t include reimbursable items or student fees, which according to past figures, average around $500,000 a year. Calculation of funds like that will be a part of future meetings to ensure the district is able to meet its financial obligations in all areas. He also said that one of his long-term goals is for the district to be able to carry money over from one year to another.
Right now, Katt says he’s been working with others to finalize the budget so that unexpended projects across the district can be prioritized and paid for out of current funds, even if some budgeted areas need to be readjusted. Currently, one obstacle is overcoming the full time enrollment (FTE) difference.
According to Katt, each FTE equates to an additional $6,137 in the budget, spread across multiple areas. This year, actual enrollment is about 142 students short of the published budget, which means quite a few areas within the budget will need to be reevaluated and adjusted accordingly.
Katt said that the next step will involve going to Topeka along with Tracey Kaiser and Cheryl Shubert to visit with the State Department, getting the budget “squared away.” After that, he’d like to change the way the district prepares its yearly budget.
“What we want to do is come up with a very good budgeting process where we have involvement from all people like principles, maintenance, and just everyone involved. Go through that and come up with a 5 year plan on finances.”