Friday, June 1, 2012

School board considers $74.7M budget

Salaries and benefits account for highest expenditures


Mike Chatterton

The Blaine County School District is looking at a $74.7 million budget for the 2012-13 school year, with salaries and benefits as the highest expenditures, totaling about $46.2 million.

The proposed budget is $1.5 million less than the $76.2 million budget for the 2011-12 school year. It is significantly lower than the $92.8 million budgeted for the 2010-11 school year when the district began a massive construction effort through funding from a 10-year $59.8 million plant facilities levy approved by Blaine County voters in 2009.

The lower budget reflects a reduction in construction expenditures in the coming school year.

District Business Manager Mike Chatterton unveiled the new numbers at a special school board meeting Wednesday. The school board is expected to vote on the budget, following a public hearing, at its next monthly meeting June 12.

A copy of the proposed budget is available for public review at the district office at 118 W. Bullion St. in Hailey.

Expenditures

Of proposed expenditures, salaries account for $33.3 million and benefits $12.9 million. Both numbers are higher than what was allocated for the 2011-12 school year, when salaries were listed at $31.9 million and benefits at $12.5 million.

For the 2010-11 school year, salaries accounted for $29.3 million and benefits for $11.5 million.

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As has been past practice, the proposed budget for the 2012-13 school year is divided into two categories, listed as "general M&O" and "all other funds."

The general M&0 fund, budgeted at $55.35 million, is what is typically described as "operating expenses." The "all other funds" category, budgeted at $19.3 million, includes capital outlay and construction expenditures and revenues expended from federal funding sources.

In calculating annual expenditures per student, school districts in Idaho only consider expenditures in general M&O funding and base the rate on average daily attendance rather than actual enrollment.

Using that calculation, the Blaine County School District annually spends about $16,000 per student, well above the state average of about $6,500 spent per pupil.

District administrators have previously justified the higher cost per student in Blaine County by the higher cost of living here and by higher teacher salaries than elsewhere in Idaho. Further, the district maintains a lower student-per-teacher ratio than most school districts in the state.

Revenues

Local property taxes remain the highest source of funding for the school district, with total revenues expected for the 2012-13 school year at $38.18 million.

State funding is expected at $14.77 million and federal funding at $1.84 million.

Chatterton reported a beginning balance of $15.47 million.

The balance of anticipated revenues includes interest income, school lunch programs and other fees, and leases on district facilities.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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