Cape Henlopen school board unanimously approved a $199.4 million preliminary budget for the 2021 fiscal year.
“It’s balanced, but with an unknown revenue impact on property tax receipts due to COVID-19 and people being out of work and/or possibly in foreclosure,” Cape Director of Business Operations Oliver Gumbs said.
Gumbs said the district citizens budget oversight committee raised concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on the budget; he said there were too many unknowns to budget for that right now. If needed, he said, he will use currently budgeted resources and may have to discuss allocations.
The increase from last year’s budget, which was $169.1 million, was due largely to an increase in capital projects that were approved by taxpayers via referendum, Gumbs said.
These projects, excluding bond anticipation notes for debt service, accounted for $22.6 million and fund renovation and construction projects at H.O. Brittingham, Shields and Milton elementaries, and the addition at Cape High.
Increased enrollment necessitated one additional modular classroom at both Beacon and Mainer middle schools. The first-year cost is about $55,000 each for a total of $110,000 the first year, Gumbs said, after which each modular will cost $22,000 to lease annually.
The budget includes $665,000 in reductions and reallocations; Gumbs said the district allocated funds to its priorities, which are maintaining staffing and affording units earned from the state, as well as curriculum upgrades.
Reserve funding of $455,000 was set aside for curriculum replacement, down from $574,000 in 2020, and for band uniform/equipment replacement, which remained the same as 2020 at $15,000.
State funding accounts for the majority of funding at just under $132 million; the local share is about $63 million, and federal share is nearly $5 million. The final budget will be approved in January 2021, Gumbs said.