Wednesday, June 22, 2005

School Board adopts district's new budget

High school fee increased

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County School District board of trustees endorsed a 13 percent increase in the annual budget Tuesday, June 14, at the regular school board meeting.

The board voted unanimously to approve the approximately $62,824,000 proposed budget for the 2005-2006 school year. One key element of the budget calls for raising fees for student programs.

Driven by growth, the plan increases district operations from last year's $55 million budget with funding to increase teachers' salaries, to provide for construction costs for the new Woodside Elementary School, to implement a new districtwide math curriculum and to increase expenditures per student.

This year the General Maintenance and Operating Fund calculates to just over $41,784,000, accounting for the majority of the operating budget. The bulk of the general fund budget pays for teachers' salaries and benefits. Part of the fund will be used to raise teacher's salaries and fund eight new positions. Higher enrollment at Wood River High School is driving the hiring needs.

As part of the 2005-2006 budget, the board voted to increase higher fees for school programs. The majority of fees increased marginally, with the exception of Wood River High School's Adult Activity Pass.

Before approving the fee increase, board members demanded an explanation for the higher costs of the pass, the price for which increased from $45 to $100. It allows unlimited attendance for adults to the high school's sports activities.

"When we started looking at the budget, we knew we had to make a change or there would be a strain on the instructional budget," Wood River High School Principal Graham Hume said.

Hume said the school lost approximately $6,000 on the activity pass last year due to increased program costs and a decrease in the number of corporate sponsors.

"If you take all the games and divide by $100, it's a good deal," Carey School Principal John Peck said.

Revenue generated from the pass pays for the costs of high-school activities, including uniforms and game officials. Individual schools make the suggested fee schedule adjustments.

Trustee Alex Sundali made the motion to approve the budget. The board unanimously approved the plan. Chairman Howard Royal did not attend the meeting.

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