Education

Revised projections highlight QPS financial struggles

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 24, 2017 9:35 pm Updated: Apr. 24, 2017 10:09 pm

QUINCY -- Revised projections paint a darker financial picture for the Quincy School District.

"May is going to be a tight month for us," Business Manager Joel Murphy said. "In the education fund, if we do not get any of the categorical payments we're supposed to be getting, we'll be in negative cash flow and looking at making loans from working cash to cover that."

Members of the district Finance Committee were told Monday morning that the state owes the district $4.5 million in categorical payments, typically made four times a year to cover transportation, special education and other services. By midmorning Monday, the amount owed by the state dropped to $3.6 million after the district got a $582,932.45 general state aid payment, as expected, and a $349,658.25 special education payment.

New projections calculated based on the district getting one additional categorical payment, reviewed Monday morning by the Finance Committee, show the education fund finishing the year with a $2.539 million deficit, the operations and maintenance fund finishing with a $504,971 deficit, and the transportation fund with a $742,301 shortfall.

Treasurer Ryan Whicker said the committee will need to look at borrowing from the working cash fund as early as May.

"If we get one categorical payment, I'm pretty confident that we can make it for the rest of the year with just working cash, without any outside borrowing," Whicker said.

Even with borrowing from working cash, by July 1, the fund is basically depleted.

"How are we budgeting moving forward?" committee Chairman Richard McNay asked.

"We get property tax money the end of July or early August, which will let us operate for an extended amount of time," Superintendent Roy Webb said. "Ryan and I and Joel will have to give our best guess on what the state will pay for categoricals and use that as a budget number.

"Next year if the categoricals still aren't coming through, or we think the state's just way off, we're going to have to readjust and make significantly more cuts or figure out something with the revenue."

OTHER ACTION

• The Finance Committee also heard an update on the district's next $20.4 million bond issue for the building project. The School Board is expected to adopt a resolution in May tied to the bond issue, which will be structured to include a "retail" component to reach local investors.

The district plans to work with the same underwriting team -- headed by Stifel, Nicolaus and Co. as senior manager, with William Blair and Hilltop Securities serving as co-managers -- for the bond sale.

• An increase in the threshold from $500 to $5,000 when board approval would be needed to dispose of surplus district property was approved. The district expects to have a variety of furniture and equipment to dispose of while closing down and demolishing some facilities.

• The committee recommended that the School Board approve a bid of $241,908 from Midwest Transit, the lowest of two bidders, to lease 10 71-passenger buses, a 33-passenger plus two wheelchairs bus with air conditioning, nine 48-passenger buses without air conditioning and two 48-passenger buses with air conditioning.

• It also recommended that the district move forward with a pilot after-school child care program at the new school on the Monroe site.