At a special School Board meeting held March 4, Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez presented a proposed budget for 2014/2015 totaling $79,470,000.
By Sarah Varney
At a special School Board meeting held March 4, Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez presented a proposed budget for 2014/2015 totaling $79,470,000. The proposed budget represents an increase of $2,712,000 over the 2013/2014 budget of $76,758,000 which included $2.3 million in spending cuts.
The 2014/2015 budget proposal requests the addition of one custodian, one security guard, four high school teachers, $72,000 for the full restoration of the high school’s Writing Mentor program, and funds to acquire the computer-based testing equipment mandated by the Race To The Top initiative. Current programs remain unchanged, as will the class-size policy of 18 to 22 students at the elementary school level.
Dr. Alvarez told Board members that the additional four high school teachers are needed to handle increased enrollment – 72 students. The high school already gained 144 students this school year. “With the enrollment increases, additional sections will be needed at the high school in 2014/2015,” he said. New space in the science wing — 27,000 square feet — set for completion in August, necessitate the new security guard and custodian.
The $2.7 million proposed increase creates a revenue shortfall. The allowable 1.64 percent tax levy rate increase under the tax cap would provide the District $69,989,093. With additional non-tax revenue of $5,638,400, the District is left with a $3,842,507 shortfall against the proposed budget request.
In his presentation, Alvarez outlined four options for closing that gap. 1) Be tax cap compliant and use $3.84 million from Reserves; 2) use of an additional 5.58% tax override to cover the entire $3.84 million shortfall; 3) a combination of 2.24% tax override and a $2.3 million use of Reserves, consistent with 2013/2014 Reserve use.
“Option Four,” which Alvarez stressed that the District is not recommending, would include cuts of $1.7 million with the possible elimination of the FLES (Foreign Language for Elementary Schools) program, librarians at the three elementary schools, and create larger class sizes. Board members’ comments indicated that they would not consider this option, but would look for alternative solutions.
Parent Jamie Jensen exhorted the Board and District to ramp up support for a solution that does not include cuts. “Simplify the message, figure out ways to increase revenue, fight the mandates!” she said.