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Brentwood School District Financially Stressed, Superintendent Faulkner Says

Superintendent Faulkner has been taking his message to teachers and parents, trying to help them understand what has happened and what is being done about it.

New Brentwood School District superintendent David Faulkner inherited a district in the black, but only thanks to a $739,000 budget cut the school board made in February of this year.

Then superintendent, Charlie Penberthy, explained the situation in a March 9 Patch article.

In a meeting with Patch on Oct. 28, Faulkner, said he knew what he was getting into when he took the job. He’s been meeting with Brentwood School District staff members and PTOs for the past six months, explaining the situation.

"We have been addressing the situation for the last three years," Faulkner said. "Our revenues have followed the direction of the economy, but unfortunately, our expenses have not been as flexible."

He said the staff has heard it before, but it’s new for many parents, who have always thought the district is well funded.

He said property values went down for the first time ever in the 2009 county assessment, and then went down again in 2011.

In addition, because of the Hancock Amendment, taxes for the schools are held even lower. He said voters in 444 Missouri school districts have voted to waive the Hancock, but that hasn't happened in Brentwood.

Also in 2009, a flaw in the legislation required the tax rates to be set by September 1 instead of October 1.  The tax rates were set too low because the preliminary assessed property valuation was too high.  The district lost more than $1 million of revenue in one year.  Because that was not the fault of the district, the district has been allowed to recover those funds.

He added that schools get nothing from TIF properties. When homes are removed for a TIF development, it removes tax revenue from the houses, which are replaced by a TIF that pays no school taxes. When that happens more of the burden is shifted to the remaining houses.

Tomorrow: Steps the district is taking to improve the situation.

Scott Stinson October 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM
I think Jim Davis is right here. What we have is a a lot of hearsay and emotions. We all want strong Brentwood Schools. What the Patch and Doug Miner could do to help us make an informed decision is to give us facts. We need five years history of School District Income - broken down by all sources, property tax, TIf Districts, etc. We also need five years of expense history. Lastly there is a widespread feeling in the community that these problems arose when the early childhood center was built. What were the projections, actual project cost and operating expenses. If we the voters have these facts then I think we are in an informed position that will allow us to make a good vote on whether or not the district is being a good steward of our funds.
Striek October 31, 2012 at 03:21 PM
In fairness, the Patch is not adequate venue for such detailed information - because that is what leads to these hearsay/emotions. The letter the superintendent sent parents summarizes the financial situation more effectively than these articles. For those interested, detail is available here: http://www.brentwood.k12.mo.us/docs/budget/index.html Recent audit has the revenues and expense breakdowns, as well as property assessment history, property tax rates, major taxpayers. I've only made a cursory look at the many details in these documents. Surely BSD has made mistakes over the years. However, as a parent and taxpayer, I am very pleased and proud of our schools. And it is true -our property taxes are much lower here than elsewhere -including many districts that have larger class sizes and are less successful in the measurables.
Doug Miner October 31, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Thanks for that link, Striek. I'll add the current year budget PDF to the article.
Striek November 01, 2012 at 07:53 PM
RE: Early Childhood Center- in 11/2008 voters approved a $6 million dollar bond (borrowing) for it. No additional taxes were levied in the measure. http://www.smartvoter.org/2008/11/04/mo/sls/prop/E/ So the district budget is currently affected by the debt repayment on the center. Whether it has/had overruns in building cost or in operations -nothing jumps out at first glance. Worth noting - the housing market assessment valuation drop occurred after the voters approved the center. The tax base is significantly lower now than when the center was approved. I personally feel the eary childhood center is worth it. However, the bond vote would be a tougher sell now, after the economic downturn fallout etc. Some people here have noted that their bills have gone up as house value has gone down. The current audit pages 10-12 gives information on tax levies and assessments. From a quick read, it seems rates can be raised to cover inflation (non-housing, obviously) http://www.brentwood.k12.mo.us/docs/budget/index.html
Scott Stinson November 02, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Couple comments - It appears that the District issued 6 million in bonds for the Early Childhood Center but spent around 6.5 million. If that is correct where did the other 500,000 come from? Reserves? It is also correct that debt service expense for the childhood center is an added expense but district interest payments are down almost 500,000 per year from 5 years ago. Lower interest rates maybe. I spoke to a board member for another district last night and was told that they are suffering enrollment problems with their early childhood center - partially due to economy and increased competition from private caregivers. Are we experiencing the same? What revenue stream was projected and what are we actually getting?

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