Archive for Wednesday, June 11, 2003

3 percent to be cut from district budget

June 11, 2003

Unlike the past few Baldwin Board of Education meetings, budget discussion was kept to only about five minutes at Monday's meeting.

Also unlike the past few meetings, the school board made a decision Monday regarding next year's district budget.

In a 6-0 vote, with Board Member Curtis Trarbach abstaining, the board approved a cut of 3 percent, or $307,000, from the 2003-2004 budget.

"I think it's important we get a target up there and say yes, this is what it is," Board President Ed Schulte said. "We'd like to have a target percent and then come back and make final decisions."

Now that the percentage to be cut from the budget has been decided, Supt. James White will compile a number of options -- cuts and increases -- for the board to consider at the next meeting.

White told the board he wanted to know if there were other alternatives that needed to be addressed, like the possibility of closing a school in an effort to save money.

"It's the feeling of some that we haven't discussed closing buildings and rearranging attendance centers," he said. "But I feel we couldn't attack that within the framework of getting the budget done in a month."

He said if there was support for a change in the school set up, it would be better to spend next year working on it.

Trarbach said he didn't think the board wanted to consider closing a school.

"I don't think that's been the intent of this board sitting to close schools," he said.

Board Member Alison Bauer said she hadn't heard a lot of support in favor of closing a school.

"Is there the public will for that?" she said. "I don't think the whole community has been behind that."

Board Member Lonnie Broers suggested cutting a percentage from each high school and junior high activity, including everything from football and basketball to student council and forensics.

"We could just cut the expenditure from each activity by 5 percent," Broers said. "Each activity director could then decide how to cut it out. Then we could use that as part of the 3 percent reduction of the total budget."

He said he estimates that would save around $10,000.

White said he will have a number of budget scenarios to be discussed at the next meeting in the board's effort to cut 3 percent from the district's budget.

Broers encouraged district patrons with concerns about next year's budget to contact state legislators.

In other business, the school board:

  • Discussed the possibility of getting the district's Internet and telephone over a wireless network.

White said the cost for the wireless network would be $29,000 paid out on a three-year lease at around $1,000 a month. He said the district would save about $1,200 a month on Internet and telephone during the lease, and $2,200 a month once the lease was over.

He said the wireless network would require a 100-foot tower to be built on the high school campus and the district's use of the soon-to-be-built water tower north of town so Vinland Elementary School could be reached.

He said he would check with the city about the use of the water tower and any ordinances regarding the 100-foot tower.

  • Discussed a three-year Apple Computers lease for $105,000 worth of computer equipment.

Several board members wanted to know if the district had compared Apple to IBM or IBM compatible computers, and why the district continued to get Apple computers when IBM was often used in the workplace.

White said more information would be provided at the next meeting.

  • Approved in a 7-0 vote the VES student handbook.
  • Honored outgoing board members Trarbach, Linda Rogers and Barbara Johnson and former board member Roger Arnold for their service to the district.

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