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Fiscal solvency is only the first step

With a great deal of optimism and a healthy carry over balance, the Crook County School District is showing definite signs of recovery.
   It is a pleasure to report that the year-end fund balance is now projected to be approximately $4 million. As reported by the budget committee April 16, “Several of us have spent a lot of energy making sure our fiscal projections are as accurate as possible.”
   With an under-budget of revenue and an over-budget of expenses, the CCSD went from their original estimate of $2.2 million to the ending fund balance of $4 million, leaving them with a good base to move forward into the next school year and beyond.
   This being said, there is also a message of caution from the CCSD business department and the CCSD Budget Committee. If the District continues spending at a rate that is higher than the revenue it brings in, this pattern will once again continue to erode the fund balance. They have strongly recommended that the District strive for long-term fiscal stability by planning several years ahead, not just one budget cycle.
   Recent history put the District at risk when over-forecasting enrollment projections were not adjusted until after enrollments fell. This caused expenses to “chase” early enrollment forecasts, and the result was… we all know what the result was. Coupled with a daunting economy, the district has staggered financially to rebound its fiscal health.
   It appears that it has done just that, and in a shorter time than most would have forecast. Crook County High School has been able to add back two vocation programs — and has done so at a cost-neutral basis. They will be adding the advanced diploma program, making it possible for the class of 2014 to get their first year of community college tuition paid for while being enrolled an additional year at CCHS. The Aspire program has increased their FTE, and their ability to assist more students in their college endeavors.
   These are some of the highlights that are on the horizon. We hope that CCSD will learn from the past, and listen to the parents and students — their customers.
   There are still gains to be made, and programs to be resurrected.