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Parkway approves 20-21 budget amidst COVID-19

The 2020-21 Parkway Schools budget was unanimously approved at the June 10 Board of Education meeting. The budget takes effect July 1.

Last December, the district’s Director of Finance Brian Whittle and Chief Financial Officer Patty Bedborough presented the board with budget assumptions of revenues, expenses and five-year projections for the preliminary development of the budget. On May 6, the final budget was presented to the board.

Total revenue is projected to be $244,465,802 for the 2020-21 budget year, which is up 1.86% from the anticipated 2019-20 revenue of $239,997,682. Bedborough said property tax collection rates, which make up 70% of the revenue stream, have continued to fluctuate, dipping as low as 95%, but capping at 98.5%. If trends continue, the percentage is expected to stay around 96.5% for the next two fiscal years.

The balance of the district’s revenue is from Prop C monies, student activities, investment earnings, transportation, the federal Title and free and reduced lunch programs, tuition reimbursements and the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation [VICC] program.

In 2016, the school desegregation program received a final five-year extension, which will serve about 1,000 students annually through the 2021-22 school year. However, Parkway is expecting a significant decline in revenue from VICC beginning in the 2022-23 school year as students graduate and fewer students are accepted. In 2020-21, as the program is phased out, VICC revenue is expected to be about $7.2 million and down to $4.9 million by 2023-24.

The most significant revenue impact is the reduction of the financial institution tax [FIT]. The district received $589,157, which is reduced from the $7,206,029 received in 2019. Parkway typically budgets for $5 million FIT revenue, a $4.4 million shortfall in budgetary considerations. In order to recover from the FIT reductions, Parkway Schools has a voluntary rollback on the Residential Tax Rate. The current voluntary rollback is $.24 and is also worth approximately $3 million in total revenue. The district will be using part of the voluntary rollback – 0.093 – or about 40%. In addition, the district has initiated expenditure reductions as well, most notably, 10% decrease in travel/lodging/food/registration saving $100,000; 10% decrease in school budgets for $250,000; 10% decrease in services/supplies budget for savings of  $500,000-$750,000 and a one-time 1% reduction in health premium district contribution for $250,000. Whittle stressed that the cuts are intended to be proactive, rather than reactive, so that the student educational environment would be impacted as little as possible.

The balance of the travel budget will be used for professional development to provide more intensive e-learning and social distancing training, explained Superintendent Dr. Keith Marty.  

COVID-19 has impacted revenue as well, particularly relating to the lesser sales and local tax revenue Additionally, Gov. Mike Parson announced a 7% reduction in transportation for the current year and a bill pending in the House of Representatives recommending a 17% reduction in transportation allowance. At a district level, Parkway refunded early childhood tuition this spring and Parkway-Rockwood Community Ed spring and summer programs have taken a significant hit in revenue as well.

Parkway is looking for guidance from Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to apply for stimulus grant funds from FEMA/SEMA, which would cover personal protective equipment, technology, devices and the cost of overtime expenditures. The district also is eligible for a CARES Act grant, which is similar to Title 1 funding, that would aid operations. However, the dollar amount is unknown, therefore, cannot be budgeted as revenue.

Bedborough presented the operating expenditures forecast, which is preliminarily budgeted for $243,002,726, up 1.76% from the 2019-20 anticipated budget of $238,857,857.

Salaries and benefits account for approximately 86% of the total operating budget. The balance of expenses is from purchased services, supplies and materials, debt service and student activities. Salaries average a 3% increase across all Parkway employees with medical and retirement benefits representing 22.03% of the total operating expenditure budget.

The Comprehensive Staffing Committee identified $2 million in savings over two years in order to add positions for McKelvey Primary, personalized learning and the Mental Health Task Force staff. McKelvey Primary is opening this fall for kindergarten through second-grade students. The currently operating school, McKelvey Elementary, will house students in third- through fifth-grades. Phase one of the Mental Health Task Force will be implemented this fall and the following year the second phase of the task force and initial personalized learning will be executed.

In the fall, a revised budget will be presented to the Board of Education that will include the final staffing, adjustments due to pandemic planning, assessed valuation and tax rates for the 2020-2021 budget. The revised budget presented in the fall will also include any rollover funds that will be requested from building administrators and program budget administrators.

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