Return to Headlines

2021-2023 Lindbergh Schools Budget Approved

July 14, 2022

The Lindbergh Schools Board of Education voted 6-0 on June 30 to approve the 2022-23 school year budget, which includes $83.4 million in operating revenues, $86.1 million in operating expenditures, $13.8 million in debt revenue and $29.9 million in Prop R expenditures. Director Dr. Cathy Carlock-Lorenz was not in attendance.

This year’s budget will allow the district to maintain and continue current programming in support of student learning, and sets forth a fiscally responsible 2-3 year plan to balance recurring expenses that are exceeding revenues this year. This is due to a COVID-19-related decrease in state attendance funding, a state-level court case settlement, and a reduction in assessed valuation from St. Louis County after tax levies were set. These external factors have resulted in a $1.7 million annual reduction in tax revenue for Lindbergh Schools. In addition, this year is a non-reassessment year, which means that St. Louis County property values will not increase and the district will only realize revenue increases from new construction.

In June 2021, the State Auditor’s Office informed more than 2,800 local taxing authorities in Missouri that they could no longer calculate local tax rates using a subsection of state law that was found to be unconstitutional. As a result of this ruling in the Blankenship v. Franklin County Collector case, Lindbergh Schools was required to roll back its tax levy by $0.12, resulting in an ongoing net revenue loss of $1.5 million.

“This is real recurring revenue dollars supporting real recurring expenditures that were lost right before adopting the 2021-2022 budget,” Scheible said. “Future increases in local revenue will first need to cover this local tax revenue deficit created by the change in the law before covering new recurring expenditures.”

In addition, pandemic-related student absences have led to a decline in total attendance hours for school districts, and as a result, state funding tied to average daily attendance has decreased. The good news is, Lindbergh’s enrollment is once again growing and has returned to 2019-20 levels, which means that state funding will not decrease from previous years.

This year, the district negotiated three-year salary schedule plans with employee groups to help forecast expenditures earlier for future budget years, since salaries and benefits account for approximately 90% of the district’s expenditures. This will help the district continue to operate in a fiscally responsible manner as revenue returns to normal.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, our district has prioritized what is most important, and that is in-person learning,” said Superintendent Dr. Tony Lake.  “I want to thank the Board of Education for approving funding to achieve that goal, while also adding the staff required to support a full-time ARC virtual school during the pandemic. Looking forward, we have built a conservative budget that will allow us to maintain and continue programming that positively impacts student learning until our revenue sources return to more normal levels.”

Supporting Strategic Goals

The strategic goals in the district’s Compass Plan guide budget development each year. The district works to accomplish these goals by adopting a hybrid zero-based budgeting process, and examining expenditures line-by-line to find efficiencies and reduce waste. Over the past three years, this analysis has identified close to $1.5 million in annual savings that can be reallocated to meet district goals. In addition, the district has continued to promote responsible use of taxpayer dollars over time by allowing principals and district leaders to request the ability to carry over funds from one budget year to the next. This allows leaders to save for larger purchases that benefit students.

Reserve Fund

Lindbergh’s adequate level of operating reserves is based on a long-term commitment to keeping Lindbergh Schools in a strong fiscal position. Maintaining adequate reserves is important to help the district manage cash flow, manage funding volatility, address unexpected costs, save for larger purchases and obtain higher credit ratings. Most importantly, adequate reserves allow the district to pay all of its bills throughout the year, without borrowing money to make payroll. While a strategic spend down of reserves, primarily on capital expenditures, has been occurring for the past four budget cycles, fund balances remain at a fiscally responsible level.

Budget Process

During the board meeting, Chief Financial Officer Joel Scheible explained that the district budget is a working document that will be reviewed by the Board of Education on a monthly basis and updated as required throughout the year. Previously, during the Board of Education’s budget workshop on May 5,  Scheible explained how budget priorities are determined and ensure that they reflect the board’s established goals and objectives. 

In addition, the Finance Board Advisory Committee, formed in 2018-19, will continue to meet monthly during each school year. This committee includes patrons, administrators and board members who provide feedback on the budget each month.

Tax Rate

Lindbergh’s  local blended tax rate is estimated at $3.84,  $3.01 for operations and $.83 for debt, for 2022-23. The operating rate pays for day-to-day expenditures, and the debt service rate, which pays for principal and interest on debt for capital improvements. Voters approved Prop R in April 2019, a $105 million no-tax-rate-increase bond issue that did not increase the debt service tax rate of .83 cents and is funding renovation of LHS and safety improvements districtwide. 

It is important to note that Lindbergh’s residential tax rate for 2022-23 is $2.75, which is the lowest possible residential tax rate allowed in the state of Missouri.