Archive for Thursday, April 15, 2004

School board to eye possible budget cuts

April 15, 2004

Anticipated budget cuts were delayed at the Baldwin School Board meeting Monday because the legislature still hasn't determined whether there will be additional funding for schools or not.

Supt. James White told the board that he's hopeful that more money will be made available. The House of Representatives has given approval to an additional $150 million, but the Senate has yet to take action.

"We still have high, really high hopes, unlike in the past, that we will get some funding increase," said White. "I really anticipate an increase of $100 to $150 on the base (for each student enrolled.)"

However, if that funding increase doesn't happen, the district is faced with trimming around $250,000 from the budget. A budget committee, headed by board member Scott Lauridsen and which also included White, has been working for weeks on possible cuts.

"Our original goal was to come up with $250,000 in cuts," said White. "We didn't make it to that."

Board members were provided with a list of cuts that the committee had agreed on. Those areas and the money involved are: transportation supervisor, $20,000; Special Education assessment reduction, $30,000; food service supervisor reduction, $20,000; utilize space in new construction areas for more students, $20,000; eliminate the rural differential, $9,000; Discontinue custodial uniform rental service, $5,000; reduce elementary principal contracts to 10.5 months, $16,000; and reduce secondary principal contracts to 11.5 months, $11,000.

The second level of cuts, if necessary, include: reduce contingency fund, $50,000; reduce building budgets, $30,000; and cut secretary position, $17,000. The last level of cuts discussed by the committee, which couldn't reach consensus on them and handed them to the board for possible inclusion are: nurse position, $30,000; counselor position, $49,000; activity director position, $53,000; raise fees, $5,000; summer school, $15,000; cut elementary principal, $20,000; and high school at-risk, $42,000.

"I think what we need to do is take these and look at them and decide what we need to do at the next meeting," White said.

That meeting will be at 8 p.m. April 29 in the district office. That's a Thursday meeting, which is necessary to meet any potential May 1 notification deadlines involving personnel.

Lauridsen had outlined the budget process to the board. He explained that of the district's $9.4 million budget, only $1.7 million comes from taxes levied in the district. The remainder of that $7.7 million comes from the state. That comes from a base of $3,863 per student currently. That is also where the $100 to $150 per student would be added if the legislature decides to increase funding.

But, because that is an unknown and next year's enrollment is an unknown, it's difficult to formulate a budget, he said.

"The funding comes based on the number of students, so you don't know what the budget would be," said Lauridsen.

He also showed where that budget goes: $5,010,023 for instruction; around $400,000 for special education; $191,288 for extracurricular activities; $1,486,451 for administration; $2,199,242 for operations and maintenance; and $133,124 in the contingency fund.

On a per building breakdown, the money is divided as follows: Baldwin High School, $1,873,962; Baldwin Junior High School, $1,252,516; Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center, $665,974; Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center, $586,569; Vinland Elementary School, $426,338; and Marion Springs Elementary School, $362,817.

The administrative costs per school are: BHS, $260,399; BJHS, $239,958; BESIC, $135,856; BESPC, $113,061; VES, $59,267; and MSES, $63,351. Operations and maintenance costs per school are: BHS, 278,770; BJHS, $242,274; BESIC, $145,812; BESPC, $153,930; VES, $70,415; and MSES, $80,250.

All of those figures are within a percent or two of comparisons with area school districts of Lawrence, Eudora, Ottawa, Wellsville and DeSoto.

In other business, the board officially accepted the resignation of board member Stacy Cohen, who will be moving to Lawrence. Board President Ed Schulte thanked Cohen for her service. The board also set a deadline of April 26 for anyone interested in filling Cohen's position on the board. Application forms are available and should be returned to the district office. Those applications will be reviewed at the April 29 meeting and a time frame for naming a replacement will be made.

The board also heard a request from district patron and BHS teacher Sally Hoffsommer-Brecheisen that her daughter, Sommer, be allowed to take the required physical education course for graduation during another year besides her freshman year, which is currently required. Taking PE during her freshman year would cause Sommer to alter her planned schedule for taking math, art-related courses and foreign language courses all four years.

"We're not asking to opt out of PE, we're simply asking to delay it," said Hoffsommer-Brecheisen, who read a letter to the board (see page 4) outlining the conflict.

Board members asked White for additional information on the situation and said it would be considered at the next meeting.

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