257 budget cuts still up for review

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May 18, 2010 - 12:00 AM

USD 257 Board of Education members are nearer to locking in cuts to the district’s 2010-11 budget to deal with a revenue shortfall expected to be $415,000.
The district will lose $261,000 in state aid because of declining enrollment said Dr. Craig Neuenswander, superintendent of schools. He also predicted costs for fuel, utilities, other consumables and insurance premiums would increase by $154,000.
Neuenswander outlined cuts that might be made and if all were exercised would total $553,000. That would give the district a balance of $138,000 in a budget for general expenditures of about $12.5 million.
None of the proposals were new. Some, including raising the capital outlay fund levy by 3 mills, were excused. Neuenswander noted a 3-mill capital outlay levy increase, to 8 mills total, would raise $153,000, without benefit of any state aid, and would be restricted as to use. The money could be spent only for physical improvements and purchases of equipment and materials. The district also uses these funds to pay for rent for drama, art and music classes held in the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.
Staff reductions will make up the bulk of cuts and were done specifically because of the enrollment decline, Neuenswander said.
Still on the table are $50,000 from contingency reserve funds, expected to be $400,000 when the current school year ends on June 30, and $85,000 in federal stimulus funding, which will expire after next year.
A net gain from moving middle school instrumental and vocal music classes from the Bowlus Center to IMS would be $13,550. Neuenswander said $16,300 would be saved in busing and $6,450 in rent to the Bowlus Center. Those savings would be offset by anticipated expenditures of $9,200 for band instruments.
Still in the mix is $18,000 from increasing breakfast and lunch meal prices by 15 cents. Board members expressed reluctance to increase the meal prices, noting it would be a direct burden on families already struggling with children in school.
After review of the proposed cuts, Neuenswander said he was comfortable with all proposed.

NEXT SCHOOL year’s cuts may not be the last.
In answer to whether he thought more might be ahead, Neuenswander allowed that “next year might be worse.”
“State revenue is still dropping and (federal) stimulus money is going away,” he said. “Gov. Parkinson thinks the one-cent sales tax increase will get us through the next three years. We’ll see.”

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