Mehlville school board to discuss transfer of $1.2 million in operating funds to capital fund

Staff Report

Mehlville Board of Education members were scheduled to discuss today — Nov. 17 — whether $1.2 million in operating funds should be transferred to the district’s capital fund.

The Board of Education is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the Administration Building, 3120 Lemay Ferry Road.

The school board voted unanimously last month to approve a motion by board member Rich Franz and seconded by board member Mark Stoner to place the matter on the board’s Nov. 17 agenda.

That $1.2 million is a result of higher-than-projected district balances at the end of the previous school year.

In information provided to the board, Chief Financial Officer Noel Knobloch wrote, “In fiscal 2011, the district received approximately $800,000 of unbudgeted revenue and was able to save approximately $1.4 million due to budget restrictions and cost-cutting initiatives.

“After allocating approximately $1 million of this favorable variance to salaries and benefits, the district’s reserve balances are approximately $1.2 million better than anticipated. It has been suggested that this ‘excess’ could be used to address some of the facility issues,” Knobloch wrote.

At the board’s October meeting, Superintendent Eric Knost presented one-, three- and five-year plans for the district’s facilities totaling more than $11.1 million.

Besides major renovations, the district needs to repair, replace or upgrade roofs, floors, ceilings, lockers, bleachers, asphalt, boilers and fire alarm and HVAC systems, among other things.

The district’s 2011-2012 capital budget is nearly $1.3 million, down about one-third from the 2010-2011 capital budget.

That money is mainly for unforeseen repairs as most capital projects have been deferred, district officials have said.

Knost’s one-year plan for facilities with proposed completion by January 2013 identifies needs totaling more than $1.6 million, including three projects planned next summer — sealing and striping of lots, $125,000; asphalt repair and replacement, $150,000; and fire alarm replacement at Mehlville Senior High School, $295,000.

The third year of the facilities plan with proposed completion by January 2015 identifies needs totaling nearly $5.2 million, excluding an estimated $365,000 to $500,000 for the installation of eight tennis courts at Bernard Middle School and an estimated $180,000 to $500,000 for expanding restrooms at the district’s pool.

The fifth year of the facilities plan with proposed completion by January 2017 identifies needs totaling roughly $4.3 million, excluding Knost’s vision for “appropriate teaching venues for district fine arts curriculum programs.”

A proposed budget adjustment on tonight’s agenda, if approved, would result in a projected total cash balance of more than $26 million on June 30, 2012.

If approved, the adjusted 2011-2012 budget would project an operating-fund balance of $17,129,553 — 18.8 percent — on June 30, 2012. That balance includes food service, activities and athletics. Excluding those, a fund balance of $14,827,905 — 17.34 percent — is projected on June 30, 2012.

State law requires a school district to maintain a 3-percent operating-fund balance or be considered a “distressed” district.

If the board voted to transfer $1.2 million of operating funds to the capital fund, an operating-fund balance of $15,929,553 — 17.49 percent — would be projected on June 30, 2012. That balance includes food service, activities and athletics. Excluding those, a fund balance of $13,627,905 — 15.94 percent — would be projected on June 30, 2012.