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Liberty schools are stable



Published: Tue, February 25, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Jeanne Starmack

starmack@vindy.com

LIBERTY

The Liberty School District has come a long way since three years ago, but it still has obstacles to getting out of fiscal emergency.

Three years ago, the district had a large deficit and was answering to rumors that it would shut down, said David Malone, school board president.

“And to turn it around in that short period of time ... that’s outstanding,” he said.

The board and the state-mandated commission that oversees the district’s finances met Monday, and the board learned it would have a balance of $1,143,000 at the end of the fiscal year in June.

The district has been making cuts and paying off debt.

The debt includes two tax-anticipation loans and an energy-savings assistance loan.

The balance of one tax-anticipation loan is $335,000, to be paid off this year. The second, with a balance of $1,065,600, will be paid off next year, according to Vindicator files.

The balance of the energy-savings assistance loan is $2 million. The district obtained the loan with the idea the energy savings at its buildings would make it worthwhile.

The district also obtained a state-solvency assistance loan to help keep it operating.

That loan has a balance of $951,000, and will be paid off this year.

Nita Hendrix, who went over the district’s expenses, said the district deserves congratulations for needing only one solvency loan.

Even though the district’s finances are stable, its five-year financial forecast projects deficits beginning in 2017, pointed out Paul Marshall, the fiscal commission chairman.

Most school districts’ five-year forecasts show deficits in the later years because factors such as state funding and enrollment are unpredictable.

Liberty, however, will not be able to get out of fiscal emergency unless it can show positive balances for those years.

“Ultimately, there are two basic options,” he told the board. “Reduce spending or increase revenues.”

The five-year forecast is undergoing a revision. Once the board and the commission have had a chance to review the new forecast, they will discuss it again in May or June.


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