The Mexico Public Schools Board of Education had until the end of the month to make a decision on the fiscal year 2020 budget.

The board held a work session Tuesday to discuss and approve the 2020 budget. Budget documents were provided at last week’s meeting, but a decision could not be made without more time for board members to review the documents.

Estimated revenue for 2020 is $28.05 million, while the expenditure budget is estimated at $27.1 million. These estimates are an increase over the 2019 budget that will close June 30.

Superintendent Zach Templeton reviewed the 2019 budget and told the board how the district could move forward into the next school year. Budget numbers for 2019 are not final, actual numbers since the 2019 fiscal year has not yet ended.

The board approved the final budget, knowing it may receive amendments as necessary. Board members Nathan Birt and Scott Nichols were absent from the vote.

As of Tuesday, district revenues for 2019 were approximately $27.9 million, with expenditures around $26 million. Assessed valuations the past couple of years have increased, which translated into local revenue increases from property taxes, Templeton said. In fiscal year 2018, property tax revenue was $8.9 million, budgeted revenue for 2019 was approximately $9 million, and 2020 is estimated at $9.4 million.

While local revenue was up in 2019, state revenue decreased based on the foundation formula used by all school districts to calculate state aid. “There are certain things in there that are based on availability of funds, so that could have been the reason we saw some decline there,” Templeton said.

There will be some changes for 2020 in how expenditures are coded in the budget. For example, the district’s special education director splits their time between the five district schools, so that person’s income in the budget is divided between the five buildings.

The district also was able to increase how much it keeps in its reserves which could allow for one-time capital projects in either 2020 or 2021 fiscal years.

Templeton included an estimated 2% increase in assessed valuation for 2020, which he said is a conservative increase. The district will not get assessed valuation numbers until August, which is when, if necessary, it can make a budget amendment to incorporate actual assessed valuation numbers, rather than the current estimate in the budget.

State funds in 2020 are estimated at $8.7 million for the district. This amount is determined by average daily attendance, students receiving a free or reduced-price lunch, number of students receiving special education instruction, English language learners and early childhood education.

“This year we will claim some funding for early childhood, which we’ve never done in the past,” Templeton said. “The state has set aside a limit of money that can be claimed for early childhood.”

The district will teach more than 160 students in early childhood, but it will only receive a funding amount for 25. It still is a considerable amount of money, Templeton said. The district will receive $6,308 per day, per student in 2020. “We definitely want to claim them, and I don’t think we realized we could claim them prior to this year,” he said. “It’s relatively new.”

The estimated assessed valuation on all local properties is at $218.5 million, which means the district could receive as much as $9.6 million in property tax collection. “We get about 92.5-93% of the taxes as current taxes, which means they’re paid by the deadline. Then we get about another 5.5-6% in delinquent taxes,” Templeton said.

The district is in a good position in revenue estimates and funding reserves, he said. This will give the district options in the future to consider capital improvements at district facilities or even expanding alternative instruction at lower grade levels, such as at the middle school. The district could add a human resources position as well, he said.