By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON — Anderson Community Schools can once again expect a nearly $1 million surplus in 2014, according to projections given during the monthly ACS board meeting Tuesday evening.
"Well here it is, 2014," Chief Financial Officer Kevin Brown said in Anderson High School's auditorium. "It’s a little bit of a rerun from 2013."
ACS can expect a "slight to moderate increase in revenue for 2014" with factors like a steady enrollment, a slight tax rate increase after a previous year drop and a stable assessed value that "helps keep tax rates low."
ACS is predicting a revenue of $73 million and expense of $72 million in 2014, with a cash balance of nearly $12 million that includes carryover from previous years, Brown said.
He said that carryover will help with any unforeseen expenses or shortfalls.
"It's not unusual, not untypical," he said of the cash flow. "It's something we have needed for a long time."
Brown said the district is again looking at steadier enrollment with about 6,900 students this year, a slight increase from last year that has led to the reopening of Killbuck Elementary as a kindergarten extension and Southview Preschool Center.
He added that there was also a slight increase in staff with 843 full-time workers -- up from 828 last year. Support from the state is tied to enrollment as each district receives so much per student.
There is about $7 million in circuit breaker losses forecast by the Legislative Services Agency, though.
"It's an unfortunate reality we've had to deal with since that (law) was imposed," Brown said.
The next steps, he added, are to continue: partnerships in the community, marketing the school district to increase enrollment, to be efficient with facilities, to be responsible with marketplace needs — like the addition of a career center next year to deliver in demand skills to the community — and to intensify discussions with local legislatures.
Brown also proposed a $10 million capital projects fund and $200,000 for the replacement of two school buses.
The board will vote on the budget at the next school board meeting on Sept. 10.
Outgoing Superintendent Felix Chow, who will step down Aug. 30, gave his state of the district address where he talked about changes made in his three years as superintendent, such as an improved graduation rate — 83 percent graduated in 2013 — and slight improvements in ISTEP scores.
He also talked about the challenges the district still faces, such as legislative changes. This year, he said, is to be spent focusing on improving instruction and increasing student motivation.
"In a way I'm saying goodbye to the school district and in a way I'm not," he said. "To a degree, if the model I've formed, the direction I've set is still used by the school district, like it or not, I'll be here with you in spirit for a long time."
The school board and Anderson Federation of Teachers thanked Chow for his leadership.
"To us, his legacy will be making tangible and meaningful decisions for our students," Parent Advisory Council President Cammie Slaven said.
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The ACS board also approved a $1.8 million bid from Lehman's Contractors for a renovation project at Highland Middle School, congratulated the Marching Highlanders on their fourth place in the Sweet 16 at the State Fair's Band Day and recognized Joe Kirkpatrick, who placed 33 out of 274 in the national spelling bee.