Archive for Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Baldwin school board to revisit busing issues with budget consideration

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

July 11, 2012

Baldwin School Superintendent Paul Dorathy received a pleasant surprise recently as he worked to prepare the district’s 2012-2013 budget.

Dorathy said revised figures from the Douglas County Appraiser’s Office indicate the district’s total valuation increased “slightly.” When the appraiser first shared valuation numbers in mid-February developed from its annual countywide reappraisal, they showed the district had a small decrease in its overall valuation. Had that not changed, it would have put upward pressure on the district’s overall mill levy because a mill of taxing authority would have produced less revenue for the district than it did in 2011-2012.

The Kansas Legislature also made the budget process easier when, in the 2012, session it increased per pupil base aid to school districts from $3780 to $3838, Dorathy said.

“It’s gone pretty smoothly this year,” the superintendent said of budget preparation.

Publication of the budget will be on the school board’s agenda Tuesday, in what will be the board’s first meeting of the 2012-2013 school year. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the district offices, 708 Chapel St.

The published budget will set maximum expenditure levels for the final budget the board will approve in August. That means the board can cut spending from the amount in the published budget but can only spend more money with publication of a revised budget.

The budget process will reintroduce two controversial transportation issues to the board: Last year’s proposal to end bus service within the city limits of Baldwin City and the placement of video monitoring cameras on buses.

After much debate last year, the board rejected a proposal to end bus service in the city. At that time, the board agreed it would reconsider the proposal during the 2012-2013 budget process.

“Where that goes at this point, I don’t know,” Dorathy said.

The board once again could decide to leave the current policy unchanged, modify routes so that buses pick up students at selected collection points or require those students living within 2.5 miles of their schools to pay a fee, Dorathy said.

State law requires districts to provide bus service to students living more than 2.5 miles from school and reimburses districts to do so. It also allows districts to charge other students.

“We don’t charge anything at this time,” Dorathy said. “The district hasn’t done that at this point.”

Also last year, the board rejected a proposal that would have installed video cameras on buses to monitor student behavior. In May, board members Bill Busby, Chad Christie, Nick Harris, Ande Parks and Tony Wedel said they were ready to support the cameras while members Ruth Barkley and Sandy Chapman remained opposed. Since then, Wedel has resigned from the board and was replaced by Sheryl Gill.

A capital outlay report shared with board in June pegged the cost of installing cameras at $20,000.

Also on the agenda are items associated with the start of the new fiscal year, including appointment a new board president and vice president.


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