Advisory committee reports budget recommendations to board
De Soto USD 232 Board of Education members received recommendations for $4.6 million in possible cuts to the district’s 2009-2010 budget but took no action during a budget workshop Monday.
The Budget Review Stakeholders Committee, formed in January, gave the recommendations, which are advisory in nature. The district is trying to determine what it will do in the face of cuts in state aid to public schools.
The committee of 29, including teachers, parents, classified staff, principals, business owners, administrators, support staff, booster club representatives, a community member and student, ranked possible cuts by a rating system after meeting four times.
During the second meeting, Feb.10, the committee heard presentations from selected district staff explaining budget functions of programs such as elementary education, secondary education, athletics and parents as teachers.
Twenty-seven committee members ranked 112 items by order of importance using a one-to-five point system. A one rating was given when a program had little importance and could be eliminated or suspended. A five rating was given to programs that must be kept in place.
Reducing supply purchases in the facilities department by 10 percent garnered the least cumulative points, putting it at the top of the cutting block.
Other services or programs recommended for cuts first include suspending snacks for meetings, powering down 120 servers in the district’s data center for eight weeks during the summer, reducing postage and printing costs and reductions to grounds irrigation expenses.
Some services that have already been changed by the board include increasing the pay-to-ride bus fee from $250 to $300 per student.
Rachele Zade, parent and committee member, said in 16 years of corporate work she has had experience with budget cuts.
“They are never fun, but as far as putting together a committee and answering questions Dr. (Sharon) Zoellner (superintendent) and Ken (Larsen, director of budget and finance) did an outstanding job,” she said. “We understand the board has final say but to have the opportunity to help is appreciated.”
Larsen briefed the board March 31 on the current budget with expenditures.
A spreadsheet detailed funds budgeted for the 2008-2009 school year, including salary and benefits from each fund and percentage contributed from state and/or federal aid.
The board received a projected Form 150 for fiscal year 2009-2010.
The district’s enrollment is projected to increase by 294 students next year. But district officials are unsure what the Kansas Legislature will do regarding student aid for the coming year. Already this year, the Legislature has reduced base state aid by $33 per pupil, costing the district nearly $300,000 in aid.
Larsen presented a few options the board could consider to make up for any shortfalls to the budget.
One option is transferring maintenance department salaries to the capital outlay fund from the district’s general fund; salaries and benefits in the department total $547,300. Larsen said an adverse effect of the option would be a depletion of capital outlay funds over a period of time, which could result in having to increase the capital outlay mill levy to support ongoing maintenance projects.
Another option is to use cash carry-over reserves from some funds to help fund future budgets.
Larsen said, the board could also use contingency funds or transfer funds from the general fund and LOB to other funds.