Archive for Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Board OK’s $7.5 million budget

August 13, 2003

The Baldwin Board of Education had no problem approving the district's budget for the 2003-2004 school year, but some board members said they would like to take a closer look at how the money is actually allocated.

The school board unanimously approved the general fund budget of a little more than $7.5 million, with a supplemental general fund (LOB) of nearly $1.9 million. The district's mill levy will be 55.15 mills.

But board members Stacy Cohen and Scott Lauridsen both said they would like to take a closer look at how the money is actually budgeted for each expenditure.

The board members received a budget packet just prior to Monday's school board meeting outlining the proposed budget complete with expenditures.

Cohen said she would have liked to have received the budget packet before Monday night.

"I would have liked to have had the weekend to go through this," she said. "I don't feel that I can look through it all and make a decision."

Supt. James White said it wasn't necessary the board look how the money was budgeted per line item for budget approval. Instead, what the board needed to approve was the final budget total. How the money was budgeted, he said, could be decided throughout the year.

"What you're approving is a bottom line and that's a formula," White said.

The formula is based on the full-time enrollment in the district, which the district is estimating will be 1,300 students for 2003-2004. The district receives $3,863 per student in state funding.

Last year's FTE was 1,288, which is why the 2002-2003 budget was only $7.4 million. But because the district is expecting a larger FTE this year, the approved budget was higher at $7.5 million.

The mill levy will remain virtually unchanged. This year's 55.15 mills is just slightly lower than last year's 55.174 mills.

"People need to remember the budget developed is based on the students coming in," Board President Ed Schulte said. "The budget has already been published. It's just deciding on where the pie is cut."

Lauridsen said he would be willing to approve the budget, but wanted to be able to review the budget throughout the year and be able to discuss the district's expenditures.

Cohen said she would also be willing to do that.

She said she also wants the district to begin budget discussions earlier than what they were this year.

"As a parent in the district, I felt like the budget process was rushed," she said. "I'd like to see this process back up earlier in the year. I hope this is something we can look at earlier."

Lauridsen suggested forming a district budget committee, a sort of budget advisory committee made up of district faculty and parents.

White said an advisory committee is something the district can look at forming.

In other business, the school board:

  • Approved in a 7-0 vote to increase the district's maximum medical reimbursement employees can access from $3,000 to $5,000. The medical reimbursement allows employees to deduct from their monthly pay up to $5,000 before taxes so the money can be used to pay medical expenses not covered by insurance.
  • Discussed installing a new district-wide phone system, which would allow for a phone in each classroom. The board said it would like to see some proposals for a new phone system at the next meeting.
  • Heard some proposals from Cohen about improving communication between the district and the public. Cohen distributed a list of suggestions on ways she thinks the district could improve its communication with the public. The board will discuss the ideas at the next meeting.

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