This pie chart shows how the school district will spend its money next year. (Image courtesy of the Petersburg School District)

Petersburg School Board approved a budget for fiscal year 2021 at a regular meeting Tuesday night.  As Angela Denning reports, the budget includes some wiggle room for the coronavirus and other unknowns.

This year has been anything but a normal school year for most districts in the state. In Petersburg, students have been joining virtual classrooms from home and school lunches have been delivered around town.

The district’s budget reflects those changes, says Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter.

“In some areas we’re spending more and then in other areas we’re spending less,” she said.

For example, the district has spent less on its substitute teachers but more on technology. All in all, Kludt-Painter says the school district’s budget is solid.

“It’s interesting, with all the uncertainty and just the craziness of these last few months and even looking at the uncertainty of next year, honestly, we’re ending up rolling over a pretty stable budget,” Kludt-Painter said.

There is approximately $8.7 million dollars in expenditures and $8.8 million in revenues.

Finance Director Karen Morrison gave a power point presentation to the board.

“It’s very strategic that we’re planning to conserve as much funds as we can,” she said.

The budget is projected for 470 enrolled students, which is a slight increase from the past year. The figures include salaries for 41 certified teachers, 34 paraprofessionals, and 7 exempt positions.

Morrison called the budget fiscally conservative.

“Currently, this proposed budget has our revenues exceeding our expenditures by $105,000 and this is intentional because there are so many unknowns,” she said. “So, we put in a little cushion just to help, hopefully, deal with any unknowns that we’re not currently anticipating because we just don’t know what it’s going to be like.”

Petersburg is getting $142,000 from the CARES ACT, federal funding that’s coming through the State. The spending of it has to be directly related to responding to the coronavirus. The district has used some of the money on technology to purchase Chrome Books for the elementary students for their distance learning. The district is looking to extend the meals program throughout the summer and to offer a limited summer school program with transportation.

Overall, 81 percent of the school district expenditures is for salary and benefits for staff.

The operating budget is broken down in this pie chart. (Image courtesy of the Petersburg School District)

The district is expecting to receive $1.8 million from the borough, which is 20 percent of its overall budget. That’s the same amount the district has received from the borough for several years.

The district’s budget hasn’t cut any activities money for next year in the case that those activities start as usual in the fall.  

Kludt-Painter says the district wants to stay ahead on money going into next year because there will likely be some unexpected costs.

“We may be spending more on buses, for example,” she said. “We’re probably going to end up utilizing some busing this summer, looking at some different STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] and STEAM [science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics] and reading summer programs. We’re looking at some creative ways to have kids potentially in some small groups and maybe doing some busing with that too. So, lots of different schedules; different things to think about.”

The school board passed the fiscal year 2021 budget unanimously.