The budget for the 2004-05 school year is projected to be $15.5 million, down from $15.8 million in 2003-04. Paul Northington, the district's financial officer, explained the drop is partly due to some major one-time expenses incurred last year including the roofing of a building at the high school.
Superintendent Mike Barnes also pointed out the district continues to have fewer students each year. Last year's student population dropped 81 students from the previous year; officials predict this year there will be about 50 fewer students.
"As a result of the loss, we were able to reduce our full-time staff by 18 positions without negatively impacting class sizes," said Barnes. While this cut the district's budget with fewer salaries to pay, the superintendent also said it means less state funding since the district's funds are based on student population.
For the 2004-05 budget, work began in March with approval set for the August meeting although the budget continues to be revised throughout the fiscal year ending July 2005, Northington said.
Also in August, the school board will conduct a tax rate hearing. Northington has proposed an overall rate of $2.81 per $100 assessed valuation. This will be a 12 cent increase from last year's rate but still below the district's tax ceiling and will help recoup some of the monies lost from reduced state and federal funding.
The budget expenditures for the coming year include the purchase of three new school buses, costing a total of $189,000; and the purchase of instructional equipment estimated at $30,000.
The district will receive a technical enhancement grant to upgrade computers used in the agriculture programs, business technical and accounting classes and the business computer programs. The cost of the three computer labs are $148,000 with the state funding $111,000 and the district providing the remaining $37,000.
Building improvements funded through the 04-05 budget are $35,000 for new flooring in classrooms in the high school; replacement of main entrance doors and cafeteria flooring along with restroom renovations and gym blinds in the elementary schools, $30,000; districtwide painting, $26,000; and general roofing repairs, $15,000.
Also the budget includes a 4 percent across-the-board increase in salaries for certificated and non-certificated staff. Barnes said the raise was partially the result of savings through staff reduction which lowered the total dollars spent for salaries for the coming year by $77,000.
Barnes said he was pleased the district could provide the increase while maintaining desirable class sizes.
"I've said many times that a school district's number one asset in terms of providing a good education for its students is the quality of its staff. While there are probably those who don't think school people need raises, the reality of it is that people who work for schools are attracted by salaries just as much as those who work at other jobs," he said. "If the district's salaries don't remain competitive, those who can leave will leave and the district's ability to find a quality replacement, as opposed to just a warm body, will be greatly diminished."
Joining the staff coming for the coming year are: Casey Bunting, English, Nicole Trokey, English, Carol Lyons, English/social studies, Central High School; Casey Knight, physical education, Central Middle School; Trent Landers, auto body, Technical Skills Center; Larissa Launius, learning disabilities, and Cindy Molloy, assistant teacher, New Madrid Elementary School; Bridget Masterson, principal; Joseph McClarty, physical education, and Rebecca Robison, art, Lilbourn Elementary School; Sarah Hart, processing coordinator for special education; and Pate Hogan, technology coordinator.
Among staffing changes, Don Phillips was named the assistant principal and the learning disabilities teacher at Matthews Elementary.
Also some retired teachers are returning to fill staffing vacancies. Bob Pulliam is a part-time counselor at Matthews Elementary and Patty Taylor will work with the district's special education students. At the high school, Brad Whatley will teach English part-time while Peggy Sides has accepted full-time duties as a math teacher and Eddie Sipp will direct the data processing program full-time.