The Roswell Independent School District approved its 2020-21 budget Thursday with the expectation it could see much change after the Legislature conducts a special session next month. Board members expressed concern that an increase in insurance costs for employees might mean less take-home pay for district personnel.
The vote to approve the budget at Thursday afternoon’s special meeting was unanimous.
The need to approve the budget now, rather than wait until after the session, is mostly about timing, Chad Cole, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said.
July 1 is the start of the new fiscal year. The Legislature’s special session to readjust the budget for a projected $2 billion revenue shortfall is scheduled for June 18.
“Our goal is to establish that budget as of July 1 so we can continue to pay our bills, our accounts payable is running, continue our payroll, all of those things,” Cole said.
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Changes that will be required in the budget after the Legislature’s special session will be done through a process called Budget Adjustment Requests, Cole said.
The RISD 2020-21 budget as it is now will give the district a $3 million increase in State Equalization Guarantee funds, which are based on a formula that factors in actual student numbers as well as adjustments for special education and other programs. It covers about 95% of the district’s operating costs.
The SEG for the district increased by about $13 million last year, but that was to account for mandated expenses, Cole said. While RISD expects to see a cut of almost $25 million after the Legislature’s special session, those mandated expenses won’t likely go away, Cole said.
That includes an increase in employee costs to the New Mexico Public School Insurance Authority’s health plan ranging from 2.1% to 8.7%, depending on the level of the plan and salary range.
An employee on a low-option single plan making less than $15,000 per year will see an annual increase of $31.68, while an employee on the high option family plan making $25,000 or more will see an increase of $728 per year.
“(NMPSIA) really worked to help the districts out over the last five years. They dipped into their cash balances to the extent where they can no longer do that to save us,” Cole said.
The state’s budget as passed in March includes a 4% raise for school personnel, which would help offset those costs, but Cole said that raise could be taken back in the special session.
RISD Board President Alan Gedde said overall the insurance increase is not that much, but he would like to see the district offset that expense in some way.
Board member Hope Morales said it is a goal of the board to make sure teachers are not taking home less pay.
“We don’t want to penalize our staff for cost increases, particularly right now, so we’ll certainly look at that,” Cole said.
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City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or firstname.lastname@example.org.