The Superior School Board approved the district’s 2021-2022 budget and tax levy during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Nov. 1.

They set the general fund budget of $56.6 million. Additional expenditures anticipated in the balanced budget include $685,190 for prior service liability, $7.5 million toward the debt service fund, $106,532 for the community education fund and nearly $3 million for the food service fund.

The overall tax levy will decrease by 0.83% due to declining enrollment and the fact that there was no state increase in per pupil aid.

The board approved a total tax levy of $22.5 million. That brings the estimated mill rate to $8.82, down 78 cents from the previous year. A drop in the mill rate may not translate into less of a tax burden. The overall property valuation in Douglas County increased by 7.9%, more than the state average of 7% and double last year’s increase of 3.97%.

The district saw enrollment decline by 96 students compared to the 2020-2021 school year, although summer school enrollment increased by 107 students.

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The district receives roughly 63% of its operating funds from the state, with property taxes providing another 21%. Federal dollars provide 12% of operating revenue, 1% comes from local sources and 3% come from other sources. The majority of district expenses — 82% — go to staff salaries and benefits.

For the third year in a row, the district’s cash reserves grew. At the end of the fiscal year, Superior’s 2020-2021 fund balance is expected to be nearly $13.7 million, which is 25% of the district’s operating expenses. The fund balance represents the total assets minus its liabilities, according to Shannon Grindell, director of business services.

Officials recommend that districts have unassigned cash reserves between 25-33%, which translates to about three to four months of cash on hand. The reserves help the district keep short-term borrowing down until state funding comes in or avoid short-term borrowing all together.

In 2018-2019, the fund balance reserve was 21%; in 2019-2020, it was nearly 24%. District Administrator Amy Starzecki told the board that increasing the fund balance is something the district has been working on.