Managing District finances
CASD acquired a budget surplus in 2021-2022 primarily due to the infusion of federal ESSER funding designed to ease the challenges schools faced during the COVID 19 pandemic. What financial challenges do you envision for the District when those funds are no longer available in 2024?
CASD's budget reserves are a result of prudent fiscal planning, conservative budgeting, and continual efforts to find cost savings. Carlisle has spent its COVID dollars to:
- Establish a summer learning program to help students who were falling behind.
- Add credit recovery and learning support for students struggling to master reading, math, or other core subjects
- Hire several new positions including an at-risk counselor, behavioral specialists, and contracted with additional psychologists. We have carefully planned to integrate these positions into the general budget as the COVID funding concludes next year.
- And we replaced many aging ventilation systems in our schools and installed air purifying units in every classroom.
Absent state funding increases, we may explore using some of our reserves to extend those programs proving most effective.
That said, there is no doubt that the single biggest financial challenge facing our district is the continued underfunding by the state which shifts the burden to local taxpayers.
Currently our school district only receives about 32% of our funding from the state, leaving local property owners to shoulder the rest. Since 2011, our district’s instructional costs have increased 42% while the state has only increased our funding 12%, leaving us every year with the choice of raising taxes or cutting teachers and programs.
If the state fairly funded K-12 education, our district could stand to gain an additional $18 million per year
Despite these challenges, Carlisle remains one of the most financially stable school districts in south central Pennsylvania. We do very well in meeting students’ needs while finding cost savings and efficiencies and are still able to address unexpected emergencies and critical facility needs.
The CASD has a pristine credit rating, and currently carry a prudent debt load that will be paid off virtually in time for us to take on the Kindergarten to 8th grade restructuring project with minimal impact on our budget or taxpayers.