Approved spending for the Brighton Area Schools will be up over $2 million, after the Board of Education approved the revised budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year at Monday’s meeting.

It is customary for school districts to revise their budgets at least once during the school year so they fall in line with more recent data on revenue and spending. The 18-19 budget as revised totals $76.3 million in spending, compared to $74.1 million in the original budget, a $2.2 million increase.

Superintendent Greg Gray says the reason for the budget escalation is that enrollment — both in-district and from the Shared Services program — has shown an increase from earlier projections. The official, audited enrollment for the 2018 fall term totaled 6,034 pre-K-through-12 students — which is above the pre-count estimate of about 6,000. Gray says the enrollment increase has necessitated staffing increases. But he adds the mitigating factor is that the revenue numbers will also be up, resulting from the additional per-pupil state aid, which amounts to $7,871 per student.

Another reason for the increase is some furniture purchased for the Scranton Middle School science room, which was not budgeted for in the earlier figures. Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Maria Gistinger told the board at its Jan. 14th meeting that in the amended budget, the fund balance for the current year ending June 30th is projected at nearly $6 million. That's a $1 million increase over last year and a huge change for the better, considering that Brighton was a deficit district just a few years ago.

Gistinger has attributed the change from being in the red to well into the black to frugality on the part of the board and administration and the Shared Services program. Although a $5.9 million fund equity, which amounts to about 8%, is good, Gistinger would like to see a fund balance of 14-15%. That amount, she says, would give the district a good cushion in case of an economic downtown.

The Shared Services program — in which the Brighton Area Schools teaches classes to schools which, usually due to their small size, are unable to provide certain courses — has been highly successful, with over 2,000 full-time equivalent students. Brighton offers the largest Shared Services program of any school district in the state, with programs in approximately 50 schools in 12 counties. Gistinger says the budget will be amended one more time, in June. (TT)