The financial squeeze on the Island School is easing thanks to a record Tarpon Ball turnout, a bump in enrollment and county reimbursement funding as well as money market advances.
Challenges remain. The Island School continues to operate under a deficit, reported Treasurer Judy Morrison at the March 10 School Board meeting.
But the financial picture has improved since the prospect of having to lay off one of four Island School teachers was raised as a possible budget-balancing necessity. Island School Foundation Chairman Bayne Stevenson has rejected that option and vowed to ensure the Island School retains all of its instructors.
"The Foundation represents a real level of security for those who are at or in this school," Stevenson said.
The school relies on two major fund-raisers during the year: the Tarpon Ball and the annual fund drive.
The Tarpon Ball appears to have generated $56,250 with its Western-themed party the first week in March. The complete budget will be presented at the final board meeting of the season April 21.
What: Island School Board meeting
Where: Island School Elementary
When: 3:30 p.m. April 21
Why: Budget presentation at final board meeting of season
"The Tarpon Ball was a great success," Morrison said.
"I think that's a record," said School Board President Carol Stewart.
By contrast, the annual fund drive is still well off its $80,000 goal with just $42,235 raised to date. This is roughly where the fund drive stood at this time last year, however, and island charitable giving did make up the difference.
"We continue to operate at a deficit, which is why it is very important to try to reach our annual fund goal," Morrison said.
A few other financial factors are working in the school's favor as it tries to balance the budget:
A money market fund the school can tap for operating revenues is up to $43,183 - an increase of $9,500 this fiscal year.
Two new students enrolled during the semester bringing the school head count to 44, which is still 14 fewer than the maximum allowed. Reduced enrollment and tuition revenue following last year's record graduating class is faulted by school officials for deficit spending this year.
The incoming kindergarten class looks to be at a maximum 12 already, which will increase tuition revenue.
State and county funding is up roughly $1,900 per month after the Education Jobs Bill was enacted, Morrison said.
"Our outlook is improving," she said.
Stevenson said the $4 million endowment fund drive, which is designed to ease annual revenue pressures at the 11-year-old school, stands at $3.2 million with a handful of major donors mulling contributions.
Tarpon Ball donations
Source: Island School Treasurer Judy Morrison