December 22, 2014

AGS approves 2014-15 budget

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Au GRES — A budget projecting slightly higher revenues than expenses in the coming school year was approved by the Au Gres-Sims school board June 30.

The AGS board approved a budget estimating $3,406,860 in revenues and $3,405,987 in expenses, which would allow the district to put money back into its fund balance, which it also did at the end of the 2013-14 school year. The motion to approve the budget was passed 6-0.

A copy of the end-of-year budget and projected budget showed the district brought in approximately $85,777 more than it spent last year, bringing its fund balance to approximately $350,000.

Superintendent Jeff Collier said during the meeting that the projected expenses for teacher salaries and benefits would be more accurate when the school year drew closer. Currently instructional staff expenses are projected to be about $150,000 lower at the elementary level, $60,000 lower at the middle school level and $90,000 higher at the high school level.

Collier said the numbers will be adjusted and prorated when the district has a better grasp on next year’s student count. He said some will teach at all levels, but can only be classified in one level right now.

According to Collier, the budget was formulated with a $7,076 per-pupil allowance from the state. The amount the district will receive will actually be higher than that, Collier said.

“Based on the state bill (June 30), the number will be $7,251 for minimum foundation allowance districts,” he said.

AGS currently qualifies for an additional $50 per pupil due to meeting best practices laid out by the state, but that money was not factored into the budget, Collier said.

“We don’t build a budget on anything that’s not 100 percent guaranteed,” he said.

Collier said the district’s budget last year and this year show a lot of promise for the district financially.

“In perspective, I think that it’s important we take a look at where we’ve come,” he said. “We are poised to be able to put 11 percent back in fund equity this year.”

“We are going to be able to put on new roofs this summer,” Collier continued. “New tiling project — from what I understand has been an ancient wish list for our playground and softball field.”

Despite the positive outlook for next year’s budget, the school board did approve a motion to lay off one teacher due to the current student count outlook. Collier said it can be difficult for people in the community to understand why a teacher had to be laid off even though the district added students last year.

Collier said the teacher who was laid off taught at the elementary level, where student count is currently lower due to a smaller incoming kindergarten class.

“Our enrollment increased, but it increased across the board so that we could accept those students without increasing our staff,” he said. “But now we have a lower number of kindergartners coming in, so we have to reduce staff.”

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