MILL HALL – Randy Strouse, vice president of the Keystone Central school board, questions the future financial situation of the district.
Strouse raised his concerns towards the end of Thursday night’s working session, after a lengthy presentation from John Compton and John Edinger of Baker Tilly. Baker Tilly provided an audit of the district finances for 2020-21.
“I believe there are two ways to balance the budget. We are doing it the wrong way ”, Strouse said in a neutral tone. “As board members, our job is to look at the toughest things… the finances, the capacity of the district and our taxpayers. “
He said the district’s constant use of its reserves to balance the budget is flawed.
“Continually using our reserves to balance the budget is never a balanced budget”, Strouse said. “If you look at our numbers… 2024-25, we’re missing $ 8 million. 2025-2026, we are short of $ 10 million. 2026-2027, we are short of $ 13 million. These numbers are not acceptable, but this district works like these numbers. “
Strouse said he recognizes that a lot can change over the next few years.
“Yes, a lot can happen by then” he admitted. “Insurance rates may not be that high. Pay can change and vary. PSERS may vary. But the hard facts are this year: revenues of $ 77 million; spending $ 82 million. Who does not understand this? It will not work. It is not sustainable. “
Strouse said the KCSD – like many districts in the Commonwealth – has received COVID-19 funding.
“COVID funding bailed us out. There is no way around it ”, Strouse said.
He asked his fellow board members to look for ways to save money.
“We need to look at the non-teachers (positions). We continue to rely on our retired teachers to help balance the budget. It is not a good business model. We are counting on departures to balance the budget… we have to do better than that. Strouse said. “There must be ways to look for ways to save money. “
Strouse has not advocated for the abolition of teaching posts.
“We need teachers to teach children. This is why we are here ”, he said. “This is the only reason we exist.
He said the council owes the public to “do the right thing.”
“We cannot rely on the state to do the right things. We can’t count on them to figure out that charter funding isn’t fair… but we have the power to start looking at it and say ‘no’. This blue line of spending must go down one way or another ”, Strouse said. “We have to take it upon ourselves and say, ‘enough is enough.’ We must have cuts. They are not going to be easy, they are going to be difficult.
Strouse said he preferred to make cuts “methodically” than being forced to make radical cuts to the road.
“It still won’t solve the problem any further, but it will make a hell of a difference” Strouse said.
Elisabeth Lynch, board member, said she would like to see the board “Find ideas” as an alternative to increasing road taxes.
“I would like the board to discuss what we can do as a group. I’m all for it, I really am, “ Lynch said.
Member of the Boise Board of Directors “Bo” Miller said it’s not time to hit the panic button when it comes to the budget.
“I know what graph you’re looking at and I’ve been seeing it for at least four years, maybe a little longer. Based on this graph four years ago, we should have $ 20 million in the hole right now. We should be broke, but we are not. It’s because we have done incredible things in terms of cuts already made ”, Miller said.
He said the district has found ways to balance the budget without using the balance of funds.
“We had a balanced budget and we did not invade the fund balance at all during this period”, Miller said. “I’m sorry, but I don’t believe the painting you’re looking at because it’s been lying to me for four years.”
Miller said the district is already functioning “Fairly bare bones”.
“There is no more fat to cut” Miller said. “We’re going to cut some meat. “
The KCSD will not officially adopt its 2022-2023 budget until later this year, usually at the June meeting.
KCSD Superintendent Jacquelyn Martin was not present for Thursday evening’s working session. With COVID-19 cases on the rise again in Clinton County, several board members and staff chose to join the meeting through Zoom.
The Keystone Central School Board will meet for a 6:30 p.m. voting session on Thursday, January 13 at Central Mountain High School. The meeting is open to the public, but will also be webcast live via Zoom on the district’s website.