D9 budget members learn role, some patrons want 4-day week

The District 9 Budget Committee held their first meeting Apr. 6.

Supt. Cynda Rickert said her message was intended as an overview of the district’s financial position for the 2011-12 school year and for the second year of the biennium, which is 2012-13.
Rickert reviewed data as follows:
• Savings by careful planning and execution by staff since 2008 has result in $2.8 in savings.
• Cost of living increases have been frozen for all staff since 2009. This does not reflect STEPS or longevity contract obligations.
• For 2011-12 school year the administration has agreed to continue the salary freeze. Certified and classified and the district are still in contract negotiations.
Serious reductions are still needed for the biennium. But as previously reported for the coming year the following reductions are planned:
• $915,000 in RIF (reduction in form). This is 5% from each employee group (certified, classified and administration)
• $200,000 in middle school athletics and selected activities.
• $178,155 reduction in the secondary budget.

This totals $1,295,155 plus $2 million from reserves for the current 2011-12 school year. The second year (2012-13) as it appears today will mean an additional $2.5 million reduction.

The legislature has increased funding from $5.70 billion based on an earlier prediction to $5.577 billion. That could mean an extra $700,000 to the district. However, there are unclear restrictions on that funding.

The budget committee includes Chairman Mike Bull, Vice Chair Brian Saling, members Lew Devlin, Mike Hussey and Alison Carroll in addition to the school board members. They were given the 68 page budget following an explanation of the function and power of the committee.

The budget committee reviews the budget to determine if spending is reasonable to support the district program. It does not add or delete programs; does not determine salaries or staffing levels. The committee will approve the budget at the five major function levels: instruction, support services, community services, facilities acquisition and construction and other uses. Those general fund budget items total $35,134,224.

Generally the committee meets twice but a third time slot has been set aside if it is needed. Last week was a general introduction. Members have been asked to review details and e-mail the Business Manager Scott Whitman with questions so he can get answers to all committee members prior to the next meeting which will be Apr. 27 at 5 p.m.

If the committee does not approve the budget at the Apr. 27 meeting, another meeting will be needed May 4 at which time the budget and tax levy will need approval.

The school board will hold a public hearing on June 8 and adopt the budget and tax levy. By law, it must then be submitted to the county assessor no later than July 15.

There were 20-25 in attendance at the meeting. Five community members, including two students athletes, Raygina Sizemore and Ralph Meeker, who are candidates for the school board, expressed interest and support for a four day school week instead of a reduction in staff as a means to save money.  Concern over class size with the a five percent reduction in staff was expressed as a concern. Another concern was keeping the budget right and supporting staff and the classroom.

Rickert said the high school must have 990 hours and asking for a longer class day may not save money.

Lynn Corwin, who spent some 30 years in school management said he had experience with one district with a four-day week where some small savings came just in cafeteria, transportation and utility costs.

Saling suggested a future look might be to modify summer breaks. He also had questions  regarding transportation, equipment updating and state reimbursement, which were answered by Tom Reimer, head of transportation.

The next budget meeting will be Apr. 27 at 5 p.m. at the school district office. These meetings are open to the public.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent


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