Additional aid eases BOE budget crunch

Nothing cheers the heart like found money.

Unified School District 410 Superintendent Gordon Mohn brought welcome news to the school board members-and parents-at the June 27 meeting.

Despite talk of the likelihood of cutbacks and increases in fees and taxes at the last meeting, Mohn said it appears such drastic measures will not be necessary to balance the 2001-’02 budget.

Mohn told board members he predicts a total of $135,346 new dollars available for the upcoming budget-$106,000 more than he reported at the June 7 meeting.

The increase in available funds, Mohn said, was due to adjustments to the local option budget for the upcoming year because of an increase in state aid.

The general fund and local option budget, with no increase in the mil levy, totals $5,116,400, he said.

With projected additional costs for the upcoming year at $198,589, Mohn said the budget is expected to have a deficit of $63,817 or about 37.5 percent of what was first anticipated.

“With the increased revenue for the local option budget, much of the problem has gone away,” board president Doug Weinbrenner said.

Mohn told the board the district’s auditor had worked with business manager Jerry Hinerman two days earlier to close out the fiscal year ending June 30.

Part of that work included determining the ending cash carryover balances applied to the beginning of the next fiscal year, which totaled $117,700, a decrease of $36,224 from the previous year.

To address the next year’s anticipated deficit, Mohn presented the board with four options for the board’s consideration. Each option included the same reductions in custodial and supportive staff and expenditures for next year.

The first option, presented at the previous board meeting, included increases in student fees, textbooks fees and the addition of a drivers’ education fee. The other three options were revisions of the first.

Weinbrenner, the first board member to respond, said the fourth option appeared to be a good one to consider for the upcoming year.

That option, which totaled $61,196, eliminated the proposed drivers’ ed fee and increases in fees for students and textbooks.

Weinbrenner also recommended the board consider using money from the cash carryover balance to cover any shortfall.

Among other board members who expressed their agreement was Bob Watson.

“I think that’s very workable,” he said.

Following a discussion about particular aspects of the recommendation, Mohn said he will incorporate the fourth option as he prepares the budget for the board’s final approval.

But Mohn expressed his concern about the public’s possible misperception of the district’s finances.

“I’m a little concerned about two years of crying wolf and they haven’t turned out to be as bad,” Mohn said, in reference to recanting proposed fee and tax increases.

“One of these years we won’t be as fortunate to find a relatively easy solution.”

Mohn said the school district will need to take a hard look at future budgets because of reduced enrollment in kindergarten and first grade.

“That will certainly impact money available and staff size,” he said.

Following the budget planning discussion, the board took action on classified staff contracts and wages and administrative and other staff salaries.

Regarding classified salaries, board member Brenda Ens requested clarification about the salary increase for the technology staff.

Mohn said the increase is primarily due the staff working more days because of the workload to maintain the computer network.

The board voted to approve a package total for classified staff of $886,741 or a 4.143 percent increase over last year.

As part of their last official duties as board members, Bob Watson moved and Ted Russell seconded the motion to provide district administrators with a defined benefit of $603 per month for health insurance and a 3 percent salary increase.

The board voted its approval.

Mohn reported the lease for the copiers expires and the district is accepting bids from Sunflower Office Products and two companies in Wichita.

He also announced that a dinner in honor of Watson, Russell and three retiring staff members will be held July 9.

The 45-minute meeting was adjourned.

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