BOE OKs spending, eyes cuts

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May 3, 2011 - 12:00 AM

USD 257 board members voted unanimously to spend $244,000 for facility repairs Monday night, which seemed to fly in the face of an anticipated state aid shortfall of more than $430,000.
“Do we need to look at the budget first,” asked Board Member Tony Leavitt.
“No,” replied Dr. Craig Neuenswander, superintendent of schools, before explaining that money had been set aside in the local option budget for repairs and that there was more than enough in the capital outlay budget to meet the obligation.
Neuenswander said $84,000 was available in LOB funds and another $670,102 in the capital outlay fund, a total of $754,102.
If the numbers play out as Neuenswander presented them, the district will carry forward $510,000, which, when added to new tax revenue, will put the capital outlay fund at more than $800,000 for the 2011-12 school year.

REPAIRS proposed by Scott Stanley, director of buildings and grounds, were but a small portion of what he outlined for board members on April 11. Then, he described a wide variety of repairs and upkeep throughout district buildings and grounds that totaled nearly $5 million.
More immediate needs include:
— Tennis courts and the all-weather surface track in Riverside Park. Each needs patching, sealing and restriping. Cost: $39,900.
— Concrete and asphalt paving: Parking lots near the high school beg attention, as does the bus parking area just west of the 300 block of North State Street. Cost: $71,172.
— High school doors: Those proposed for replacement are on either end of the main high school lobby and the entrance to the commons area. Cost: $16,848.
— Ceiling tiles: All buildings have places where tiles are damaged or stained. Cost: $1,500.
— Flooring: Mostly in the high school and some carpet in Jefferson Elementary. Two options were considered for the IHS north hallway, between the gym and weight room, in the high school and both main hallway entries. Board members selected higher priced epoxy treatment for each, on the promise the flooring would have a much longer life and require less annual maintenance. Cost: $26,517.
— Heating and cooling systems: Several upgrades. Cost: $15,000.
— Roofing: Repairs to all buildings, plus a moisture scan of the middle school roof to “see how bad it is.” (The middle school roof, in Stanley’s long-range plan, will be replaced in 2014.) Cost: $71,000.

NEUENSWANDER dashed through a review of anticipated general fund budget revenue shortfalls and how the district might cope.
The Legislature hasn’t settled on what base state aid per pupil will be and two local unknowns — health insurance premium increases and whether any employee raises will be given — prevent him from being definitive, Neuenswander said.
However, using Gov. Sam Brownback’s preference for state aid reduction, which would lower base per-pupil aid to $3,780 from $4,012, and a lower enrollment, would leave the district $421,160 poorer.
Neuenswander tacked on $25,700 for increased fuel and other costs, and estimated health insurance increases, based on an annual average of 9 percent, at a touch over $84,000.
To counter that, Neuenswander said $200,000 could be drawn from the contingency reserve fund, leaving $300,000 for unforeseen emergencies. By halving supply costs for classrooms, building maintenance and activities, he predicted savings of $219,000.
The superintendent said reducing fund transfers to such areas as food service and at-risk education could save an estimated $48,000, with another $67,000 gained through staff attrition.
That left the deficit at $9,000.
“I’m pretty comfortable with the numbers,” Neuenswander said. “I’m arrogant enough to think we can find $9,000 more” to cut.
He added that these budget figures will ultimately depend on the amount of state aid received, which will be decided by the legislature in Topeka within the next week or two.

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