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July 24, 2012 8:42 am

Park County School District No. 1 board passes 2013 budget

Written by Dante Geoffrey

The Park County School District No. 1 board of trustees unanimously passed the district’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year on July 18.

The budget is smaller than those of recent years, but coordinator of business services Mary Jo Lewis said it won’t affect the quality of education.

The district’s total general fund available budget is $28,892,918, with $23,172,411 in revenue and $5,720,507 in cash reserves.

The district expects to spend $24,729,610 this year.

“We’ll probably use some reserve money this year,” Lewis said.

While the district likely will have to dip into reserves this year, the budget is conservative, and Lewis expects it will spend only 98 percent of its budget.

The district expended 97.6 percent of its 2012 fiscal year budget.

The hiring of additional teachers will decrease next year’s cash reserve.

The district still is spending money in an effort to meet the 16-to-1 teacher-to-student ratio mandate for grades kindergarten through third grade. The district hired only one new teacher last year but took on four additional teachers’ salaries when those salaries were no longer covered by the special revenue fund, title IIA grant. The district hired five new teachers this year, plus one support staffer.

One of the main reasons for this year’s loss of revenue is the drop of 10 average daily membership in the district last school year. The district receives funds based on daily attendance by students. The drop in average daily membership resulted in a revenue reduction of $145,000, said Lewis.

It’s difficult to predict next year’s average daily membership, said Lewis. Some students who have enrolled won’t show up, throwing expected numbers off.

The district’s special revenue fund is budgeted for $4,467,310 with an expected expenditure of $5.12 million. Of that, $1.4 million is dedicated for maintenance even though Lewis expects only $340,000 in projects this upcoming year.

“With our new buildings and new technology and new textbooks, we’re in good shape,” Lewis said. “We don’t have to do that stuff with this year’s money.”

The increased square footage of new school buildings has increased the cost of maintenance.

The capital construction fund — which funds major construction projects such as the new middle school additions — is budgeted for $4,542,310 with an expected expenditure of $5,061,000. Most of what is spent in capital construction will be reimbursed, said Lewis.

The enterprise fund — which covers food services — is budgeted for $722,450 with an expected expenditure of $756,505.

Lewis said the district should not have to increase prices of breakfast and lunch.

There is a potential for the district to receive a 6 cent reimbursement on lunches, but only if the district meets the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act.

The Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 and “authorizes funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs.”

Also in food services, Powell Middle School will serve as the baking site for the district. Clark Elementary will no longer cook its own food, it will be a serving site only.

The kitchen at Powell High School will be active two fewer hours a day.

Despite the overall decrease in funds, Lewis said the district still is in good standing.

When trustee Lee Craig asked Lewis if the district can make cuts at the end of the year that won’t hurt education, Lewis responded, “absolutely.”

Earlier in the meeting, the board voted 4-3 to approve a yearlong one-fourth mill levy for a new Northwest Wyoming Board of Cooperative Educational Services transportation building in Thermopolis.

The current bus barn has been condemned and is a hazard to students, said trustee Patty Wurzel, who also serves as a representative on the NWBOCES board.

NWBOCES is a non-profit program that provides services to students with mental health issues. No Park County School District No. 1 student currently uses any NWBOCES service, said the board.

“We need to be community minded,” said trustee Dee Heny. She went on to say the small amount of tax payer money would have a worthwhile benefit.

Board members Lee Craig and David Northrup opposed the levy, as did chairman Rob McCray.

Northrup said it’s hard to spend tax payer money outside of Park County out of the goodness of our hearts.

“I’d echo that sentiment,” McCray said. “I’m not a fan of more taxes.”

The levy was approved with an earmark specifically for the transportation facility and will expire after one year.

After the budget discussion, board member Trace Paul was given an award by the Wyoming School Boards Association for becoming a certified Master School Board Member. The recognition is earned by accumulating points that are awarded to board members for attending conferences and trainings, and serving on certain committees.

No comments were made by the public during the meeting.

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