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Cape Girardeau school board approves scaled-back $41M budget
A year after promising a balanced budget, Cape Girardeau school officials delivered Monday.
The school board approved the district's $41 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1.
After a rocky year of state cuts to transportation and formula funding, the biggest source of state aid, the district produced a reduced budget that includes salary freezes, attrition and cutbacks districtwide.
"We did everything we could to get there," superintendent Dr. Jim Welker said.
Last June, the district dipped into its reserve funds to maintain a balanced budget. The school board requested the next budget be balanced and the reserves maintained around 12 percent of the operating budget. Both goals were met with the budget approval Monday.
* The elimination of about 30 stipends and 26 positions at $1.01 million.
* A 50 percent reduction of state transportation funds at $186,304.
* A 10 percent reduction in purchased services, materials and supply budgets at $521,785.
* A 4 percent reduction in the phased-in state formula funding at $269,008.
District finance director Misty Clifton said the district has a transportation budget of about $1 million.
"That will not change," she said.
Despite transportation cutbacks from the state, the district will have to pick up more of the cost. The Parents as Teachers program, which also faced cuts statewide, will be funded entirely by the state at a reduced level, Clifton said. In the past, the district contributed funding to the program.
Welker said district employees felt the brunt of the cuts.
"The hardest thing for me is not giving staff raises," Welker said.
Last year the district started a five-year plan to make salaries more competitive with other districts of comparable size. The plan was suspended because of the tough financial situation.
"It's something we still have as a goal," Welker said.
Personnel makes up more than 75 percent of the operating budget. The district eliminated 26 positions, mostly through attrition, including 10 teachers, six teacher assistants, two psychological examiners, two Parents as Teacher educators, a nurse, two counselors, a sign interpreter and two custodians.
Administrators met with staff in November to discuss the budget situation. Welker said constant communication with staff will be necessary as they deal with cutbacks in state retirement and other repercussions of the cuts.
Board member Tony Smee brought up the exponential increase in benefit costs. The district projects benefits will increase by 10 percent, or $179,076. If the cost goes up by more when the district re-evaluates benefits this winter, there could be changes to the plan.
"Nobody likes to talk about reducing benefits at all, but that's a huge number," Smee said of the increase. He said he did not advocate a change, but wanted to have a discussion about different options.
In other business, the board:
* Decided to meet July 8 at noon to approve roof bids, the first projects under the bond proposal.
* Approved the 2010 graduates.
* Approved the special education evaluation plan.
* Approved the bread products contract to Instate Brands Sales Corp.
* Approved the dairy products contract to Prairie Farms Dairy.
* Approved board meeting dates for 2010-2011.
* Approved a resolution asking state Sen. Jason Crowell to change a statute that prevents board members from participating in a roll-call vote via video conference.
* Had a second reading and approval of board policy GCN to adopt teaching standards required under Senate Bill 291.
* Approval of special education co-op grant application to provide services for hearing-impaired students.
* Approval of participation in special education co-op grant application to provide services for visually impaired students.
301 N. Clark Ave. Cape Girardeau, MO