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Construction is focus for 2006-07 budget

Sunday, July 9, 2006

(Photo)
Jamie Rainey welds a water tap for air-conditioning units at the Sikeston Senior High School.
SIKESTON -- Sikeston R-6 School District taxpayers will have something to show for their money as construction of the new math and science center is completed during the upcoming school year.

But right now, the soon-to-be finished product is very visible in the expenditures of the district's 2006-2007 budget.

"We paid out close to $1 million directly related to the bond issue in 2005

-2006; that leaves the remaining $3.7 million to be paid out in 2006-2007," Lori Boardman, the district's director of business services, said.

On June 29 the school board approved an operating budget of $29,896,446 in revenues and $34,139,778 in expenditures for the new fiscal year, which began July 1.

"We are deficit spending, but 99 percent of that is because of the bond issue. We're not operating in the red because we have balances to back it up," Boardman said.

The district finished the 2005-2006 fiscal year, which officially ended June 30, about $880,000 under projected expenditures.

The 2006-2007 budgeted revenues are based on $3.44 tax levy, which includes a 19-cent debt service levy.

"The whole goal is to keep every program we currently have and to keep every staff member we currently have," Boardman said.

State revenues are based on formula simulations provided by the state for Senate Bill 287 (new foundation formula) projections and five-year rolling averages for other codes not affected by the formula change. Projections show an increase in state monies of about $537,000.

Local and county revenues reflected in the budget are based on a forecasted growth of 2 percent for assessed valuation and five-year rolling averages.

Federal revenues are based on actual allocation projections provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Boardman said the district isn't receiving any new grants this year.

On the expenditures side, funding salary schedules for certified and support staff reflect an average raise of about 1.76 percent in addition to the 2 percent across-the-board raise for all certified and noncertified staff, Boardman said. Salary schedules also reflect four extra professional development days.

Sikeston R-6 will spend money to fund new positions to support education processes already in place, Boardman said.

"In '05-'06, we had an elementary parent liaison position at Lee Hunter and data collected as a result of that program indicated success. As a result of that success, we are expanding the program by adding a new position for each of the elementary schools -- and the monies for these positions were included in the budget," Boardman said.

A second software technology coordinator was also added in this year's budget after the success of the first coordinator last school year.

Expenditures also reflect a one-half percent increase in health insurance premiums, increases in retirements and adjustments for additional salaries.

"We had a good year for our renewal on health insurance. It was very welcomed. The amount employees pay out of their pockets will be less in a year (in 2006-2007) than what it was in one month last year," Boardman said. Also included in district's expenses are increases in technology.

"Included in the technology budget are monies to cover the purchase of new computers for both the elementary and secondary levels to ensure that our classrooms have the equipment necessary to meet the educational needs of our students," Boardman said.

Other support areas such as food services will receive updated equipment as well.

Capital improvements will cost about $500,000 for general maintenance of buildings not involved in the bond issue.

"All of our buildings are aging so there are just some things we need to do," Boardman said. "We put money in every year for general upkeep of buildings, but there were some increased needs for the upcoming years as we try to keep the buildings functional for both staff and students."

The primary maintenance focus for the next two school years will be on the senior high campus, Boardman said adding the maintenance and upkeep will complement the new construction.

The budget also includes the purchase of two school buses to keep on the rotation schedule.

Boardman said reserves are still good, and the district is secure financially.

"We're fortunate in that we continue with the educational programs we have in place," Boardman said. "We can continue with the size of staff we have in place. We're not cutting teachers; we're not cutting programs."