School School District arrvies at a balanced budget |

School School District arrvies at a balanced budget

Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News

The Summit School District’s 2011-12 budget is seeing a shortfall of about $140,000, but the expense requiring a transfer from the still-healthy reserve fund is a one-time event that will help the transition out of Closing the Achievement Gap grant funding.

Closing the Achievement Gap is a state initiative that seeks to bring up the achievement of students who may be at a disadvantage because of race and income. The grant expires this year.

“The budget is balanced,” interim superintendent Karen Strakbein said. “Our ongoing revenues meet our ongoing expenses.”

Despite state cuts totaling $227.5 million, the Summit School District budget sees little. That’s thanks to the county-approved mill levy that will bring in $2.1 million this year and next. Carryover from this year should help protect the 2012-13 budget, as well, Strakbein said.

“If the state and federal economy isn’t rebounding by then, we may have to make some cuts,” she said, “because this is one-time.”

Not only was the board able to prolong several Closing the Achievement Gap measures out of the district’s pocket, they were also able to end the freeze on teacher wages at a cost of $384,885. Strakbein incorporated into the budget all the board’s priorities approved in early May.

Along with the expiration of the Closing the Achievement Gap grant, the district is also seeing the disappearance of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Summit Prevention Alliance’s LiveWell grant, Title I’s school improvement and Title II’s technology money – totaling about $850,000. A new grant coming in is about $227,000, which will fund the “Cadillac” of summer schools, Strakbein said.

“A lot of large grants are leaving us this year,” she said, “but we hope to replace them with grants found by our new grant writer.”

The 2007 mill levy for special building, maintenance and technology has expired, and the fund was removed from the 2011-12 budget, the balance transferred into the capital reserve fund. A five-year maintenance outlook has been created with what remains in the capital reserve fund, currently about $4.3 million. It isn’t going to receive new income for several years, so per-year spending drops from about $5 million per year on capital projects to less than $1 million for the next five years.

“All funds are in balance and they’re performing well,” Strakbein said, referring to accounts such as those for food service, kindergarten, health benefits, transportation and student activities. “It’s always good when you plug numbers in and it comes out and it works.”

The adopted budget is available for public review and posted on the district’s website. A public hearing is slated for June 14 for public comment and to discuss the budget. The final budget is up for board approval on June 28.

Also at the meeting, board members:

• Named a new Dillon Valley Elementary School garden after Dr. Gayle Jones-Westerberg, the school’s retiring principal. The garden will be called “Gayle’s Garden.”

• Approved the 2011-12 school calendar, adjusted to accommodate staff negotiations that allow elementary students to start on Aug. 23 instead of Aug. 22, and an extra day of winter break for elementary students to provide plan time for elementary teachers. The calendar committee will revisit the 2012-13 school calendar to determine the best time for February’s winter break.

• Adjusted the nondiscrimination/equal opportunity policy, last revised in 1995, so it’s in compliance with applicable laws, including those monitored by the Office of Civil Rights. During review, it appeared that the district could more clearly prohibit discrimination in the district. Board members requested to strike broad objectives and modify them to be more practical without dismissing the purpose of nondiscrimination requirements.

• Agreed to alter two policies at the behest of support staff: Support staff workload/timekeeping procedures and evaluation of support staff. The first is cleaned up to make the policy consistent with clocking in with a clock system. The second changed evaluation procedures to better address the individual duties of support staff rather than blanket assessments.

• Heard that the Summit Education Foundation received a contribution of $10,000 for use in special projects funding, such as innovative and creative projects, not ongoing funding for activities or sports.

• Were reminded by Jon Kreamelmeyer that roofs – particularly flat roofs – on schools would need to be evaluated for replacement in upcoming years. Karen Strakbein said an estimate for the Summit High School roof is about $2 million, but it won’t need to be replaced for several years.

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