By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — Mt. Vernon Township High School is running a projected deficit of $270,309 in its 2013-2014 fiscal year budget.
Superintendent Michael Smith said much of the blame for this deficit can be placed on declining state revenues. School officials, he said, have worked hard to keep expenses down.
“We think we've done a very good job controlling expenditures over a three-year period,” Smith said. “The issue is revenue. It's more of a revenue problem than an expenditure problem.”
At this point, no cuts in programs or staff are planned at MVTHS, but school officials will revisit the financial situation during strategic planning sessions this winter. The district does have sufficient reserves to cover the deficit.
“It's not the type of thing we want to get in the habit of,” Smith said of the deficit. “We have been able to build up some reserves.”
Members of the MVTHS Board of Education discussed the district's budget at a Finance Committee meeting Monday. The spending plan has been laid over for a 30-day public comment period and will be adopted at the next full board meeting Sept. 23.
According to Smith, the district's revenues have declined by roughly $1.2 million in the last three years, while expenses have increased by about $84,000.
For the last two years, the state has only provided 89 percent of its general aid reimbursements for MVTHS, and it's unclear whether the situation will change, Smith said.
The district's budget was in the black for the three fiscal years prior to this one, he said.
“If you look at the difference and what's going on, we think we've fared pretty well from a management perspective,” Smith said.
MVTHS Board President Carl Miller said the board will continue to closely monitor the district's finances as the school year progresses.
“We'll do our best using Dr. Smith's good fiscal management to stay as close as we can to having a balanced budget at the end of the year,” Miller said. “It's a challenge.”
Smith said the district will remain in solid financial shape until next spring. However, if the revenue situation has not improved by then, school officials may be faced with some hard choices, he said.
Still, cutting programs and staff is a last resort, Smith said. The last time the district reduced staff for financial reasons was in fiscal year 2010.
“We're in the people and program business,” Smith said.