COLUMBIA — Columbia Public Schools has saved $1.2 million in surplus this fiscal year knowing that there would be a state budget cut in transportation.
Gov. Jay Nixon announced last Friday that funding for transportation in public elementary and secondary schools will be cut to help fund relief for recent disasters in Missouri, including the Joplin tornado and flooding in southeast Missouri.
“This is not new to us,” Superintendent Chris Belcher said.
Having anticipated the cut in state funding because of up-and-down funding patterns in transportation from previous years, Belcher said that the district “picked up the cost” itself knowing that funds would be cut.
The district has built up a $1.2 million surplus for use in the coming fiscal year, beginning July 1. The district was able to generate the surplus through reductions in staff, Belcher said.
“Less money will be put into salaries and benefits for staff,” Belcher said, on how the new budget would affect the 2011-12 fiscal year.
Class sizes are getting bigger, and an additional 160 to 200 students will be enrolled in school this fall, Belcher said.
“We are growing but getting less money from the state,” he said.
The good news is Columbia is efficiently maximizing its funds from the state. The district has even planned the budget assuming no state funding, Belcher said.
There would be no changes in the busing system next year because of the district's planning.
“We knew transportation would be the first cut because it doesn’t sound as mean,” Belcher said.