Pattonville Board of Education on June 8 approved a balanced $100 million operating budget for the 2021-2022 school year. The budget for the upcoming school year was established based on several factors:
- Small increase in existing property values - Pattonville's revenues are based on the assessed value of property in the district, as set by the St. Louis County assessor's office. Based on preliminary data from the county, property values in Pattonville are expected to increase 2.6% in 2021. However, per state law, district revenues can only increase percentage-wise by the percentage increase in value of the national Consumer Price Index (CPI), which grew by an estimated 1.4%. As a result, Pattonville's tax rates will be set so that district revenue from existing property only grows 1.4%.
- Reduced revenues due to state lawsuit - Local revenue sources account for 85% or $90.3 million of the district’s total revenue budget. Next year’s budget represents a revenue increase of 0.5% or $600,000 over this year. The increase in local property assessments is expected to generate approximately $1.25 million in additional revenue, but this amount will be impacted by a recent court decision. In March 2021, the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District ruled a method used by the Missouri State Auditor's Office (SAO) to determine voter-approved tax increases was incorrect. Under the SAO’s long-standing interpretation of Missouri statute, taxing entities were entitled to the same amount of revenue approved on election day. This would result in a new tax rate being higher or lower than what was on the ballot, depending on whether assessed valuation increased or decreased. In Pattonville, voters approved a tax increase in November 2013, but property values decreased prior to setting the new tax rate for the first time in September 2014. The SAO determined the maximum rate levied by the district would be approximately 15 cents higher overall per 100 dollars of assessed valuation. The recent court decision changes the long-standing SAO interpretation, and the district anticipates losing $2.3 million in revenue in 2021-2022, and $1.5 million in subsequent years.
- Frozen state revenues - Total state revenue is estimated to be $9.8 million in 2021-2022, most coming from the Foundation Formula, the state’s formula for allocating education funds. Under this formula, Pattonville continues to be a “hold harmless” district, receiving $4.9 million per year or approximately $828 per student. The hold harmless designation means Pattonville received a higher level of funding under an older state formula than the current formula provides. As a result, Pattonville is held to the same level of funding it received in 1992. Pattonville receives the 511th lowest level of funding from the state out of 520 districts. The remainder of state revenue includes transportation, which is not fully funded, and early childhood special education, which is reimbursed at 100% of the district’s allowable costs.
- Federal funding relief for student services, revenue shortfalls - Pattonville estimates receiving $6.5 million in federal funding in 2021-2022. Approximately $2.8 million will be from the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. The budget also includes $2.4 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) fund, enacted on March 11. The total amount of ARP ESSER funds available is estimated to be $7.1 million, but will not arrive until late fall. The district anticipates using a portion during the 2021-2022 school year. The federal funds will stabilize revenue shortfalls and provide services to students to combat learning loss experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Three-year agreement with staff - Pattonville is in its final year of a three-year agreement in which teachers and support staff receive an overall 3.6% increase in salary and benefits each year; however, the actual cost to the district is lower due to staff retirements and resignations, many of them due to a separation incentive plan (SIP) offered in the 2018-2019 school year. As a result of the SIP and small increases in health insurance costs, the actual increased cost of salary and benefits has been approximately 2.65% over the length of the three-year agreement.
- Small increase in health costs - The rising cost of health insurance continues to be a major concern nationally, but due to proactive measures such as the creation of employee health clinics, Pattonville anticipates an increase in health care costs of approximately 2%. Operating the clinics in partnership with local school districts has saved the district 20 cents for every dollar spent on health care at the clinic.
- Capital spending on high-priority needs - The new budget includes the purchase of 11 new school buses, replacing teacher devices and elementary and middle school iPads and other technology purchases and miscellaneous maintenance and repairs around the district.
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