Hoover school officials now are expecting to end the current fiscal year with $11 million more worth of expenses than revenues instead of the $6.9 million deficit originally anticipated, financial documents show.
And the picture doesn’t change much for fiscal 2016, which starts Oct. 1, according to the budget to be presented tonight in the first of two school system budget hearings.
The 2016 budget proposal from new Superintendent Kathy Murphy anticipates school officials spending $10.4 million more than they receive in revenues.
It would be the latest in a string of budget deficits for Hoover City Schools. The school system’s expenditures exceeded revenues by $6.6 million in 2008, $14.1 million in 2009, $8.5 million in 2010, $9.6 million in 2012, $10.2 million in 2013 and $7.9 million in 2014.
The only year in recent years where revenues exceeded expenditures was 2011, when the school system took in $1.7 million more than it spent, thanks in large part to an influx of federal money that year.
But the Hoover school system isn’t drowning in debt. The district received about $86 million from a Jefferson County bond issue in 2007, pumping up its overall fund balance to $150 million at the beginning of fiscal 2008.
That prompted the city of Hoover to cut back its contribution to Hoover schools, so the fund balance has been steadily dropping ever since.
Hoover officials originally budgeted to start fiscal 2015 with $92.3 million but actually began the year better, with $94.3 million. A budget deficit of $6.9 million had been expected, but expenses came in higher than predicted as well. So the new expectation for 2015 is an $11 million deficit, records show.
That would leave the Hoover system with $83.3 million in the bank on Oct. 1, giving it plenty of cushion to handle a $10.4 million budget deficit this year. School officials expect to end fiscal 2016 with $72.9 million in the bank, which is enough to cover five months’ worth of expenses.
But the school system can’t continue the budget deficits indefinitely. School board members for several years have been saying they either need to make spending cuts or find additional sources of revenue to keep the quality of the system from suffering.
The 2016 budget being presented tonight anticipates revenues of nearly $157 million, which is 1.4 percent less than the revenues that were budgeted for fiscal 2015. That includes $81.7 million in local revenues, $68.5 million from the state and $6.3 million from the federal government.
All of those revenue sources are predicted to be down in 2016 compared to the 2015 budget, including a 2 percent drop in local revenues, 1.7 percent drop in federal revenues and less than 1 percent drop in state revenues.
Meanwhile, expenditures are predicted to be almost $168 million for fiscal 2016, up $1.3 million (or less than 1 percent) from the 2015 budget.
The biggest part of school systems’ budgets is personnel. Hoover school officials plan to have 58 more employees in 2016 than they do for 2015, according to the budget. That includes 31 non-certified support personnel, many of whom are likely custodians.
The Hoover school board in July 2013, in an effort to save money, decided to hire an outside company to provide custodial services at seven elementary schools. But other school employees complained about poor service, so school officials recently decided to bring the custodians back in house.
Another 25 new positions are for teachers, even though the school system’s budget indicates enrollment is down by about 60 students this year. The budget shows an expected enrollment of 13,836 students.
All 25 of those extra teachers would be fully funded by the Hoover district, without help from the state, according to the budget. The Hoover district also would be picking up the cost for 50 more non-certified support personnel than it did in 2015.
Tonight’s budget hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the board room of the Farr Administration Building at 2810 Metropolitan Way.
The second hearing is set for 6 p.m. on Monday in the Hoover High School theater at 1000 Buccaneer Drive. The school board’s regular September meeting will follow about 10 minutes after Monday’s budget hearing ends. The school board typically votes on the budget during that meeting.