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USD 408 approves $9.6M budget

Staff writer

The $9.6 million 2012-13 budget approved Monday by USD 408 Board of Education reflects the balancing act between decreasing state funding and being responsive to the burden of local taxpayers.

“What we can control I feel very comfortable in,” Board President Chris Sprowls said. “We don’t have any idea where the state is going to go after this year.

“Hopefully they continue to fund us at an appropriate level. We just have no idea. We do what we can do with the information we have right now and hope.”

The mill levy increased by .69 to 49.657 mills, split almost equally between the local option budget and debt service on bonds and interest. The mill levy for the general operating budget remained the same.

“We’ve tried to plan ahead, and we’ve seen the results of that. That’s why our mill levy is considerably less than some of the other districts. Hopefully we can maintain that.”

The 2012-13 budget is about $50,000 less than last year’s approved budget. State aid is supposed to contribute half of the $940,000 local option budget, but in recent years the state has steadily reduced the amount they pay.

“The problem is the state isn’t paying their portion of the local option budget at 100 percent, they’re only paying at 80 percent,” Leiker said. The district should receive $470,000, but will get only $376,000, a $94,000 shortfall.

“That’s a huge hit that makes it tougher for us,” Leiker said. “This budget is as tight as any we’ve had. It’s a good, sound budget, but we have to continue to look not only at this year but the future.”

While the approved budgets this year and last year have been $9.6 million, actual expenditures for the past three years have averaged about $8.5 million. Leiker said the difference is attributable to the variances and uncertainties of the multiple funding sources for the district.

“Revenue is based on projected taxes, state aid, and federal funds,” Leiker said. “There’s so much of that that doesn’t come through, but we have to budget using those.

“The budget gives us spending authority if we were to receive all those funds, but in reality we won’t have that much cash available.”

Performing arts donation

The board accepted a $2000 donation from Lee and Diane Leiker to be used to acknowledge the achievements of Marion High School performing arts students.

“One of the things we’ve been working on is a wall at the Performing Arts Center to recognize distinguished students in performing arts,” Leiker said. “We’ve had lots over the years.

“We think that would be a good thing that students could be recognized for a long time.”

“On behalf of the district we want to thank you and Diane,” Sprowls said. “You do a lot for the district that’s not accounted for as far as the public eye, and we appreciate it.”

Custodial changes

While students are returning to USD 408, the board accepted resignations from two district custodians, Oliver Good and Brian Davies, who are leaving to pursue their own educational goals.

“Both Oliver and Brian are going back to school to advance their careers, and I’m excited for both of them. They’ll both be missed,” Leiker said.

Gail Fallon was hired as a custodian at $9 an hour. Leiker said the resignations provided an opportunity to re-evaluate custodial staffing, and there are no plans currently to hire another custodian.

In other business:

  • Attendance requests from three out-of-district families were approved.
  • Lifeguards were given a 20-cents-per-hour raise.
  • A request from the Marion Chamber of Commerce to use a bus and driver for Art in the Park was approved. The district will be compensated for the expense.
  • Casson Schmidt resigned as middle school girls’ basketball coach.
  • Darren Hopson was hired as middle school football assistant coach. Charlotte Waner was hired as high school volleyball assistant coach.
  • Leiker received authorization to seek a buyer for surplus watering equipment made obsolete by the installation of sprinkler systems at Warrior Stadium.

The next meeting of the board is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 9.

Last modified Aug. 15, 2012

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