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Morgan School Board Approves Budget

Article Date: 
11 June, 2010 - 06:00

A review of the final budget for the 2009 – 2010 school year as well as the proposed budget for the 2010 – 2011 school year was the major focus of discussion at Tuesday evening’s board meeting.  
D’Lynn Poll, district business administrator, indicated that interest income and property tax collections were down significantly from what had been projected in the tentative budget for 2009 – 2010.  Interest income was down $60,000 while the property tax collections were $198,000 less than anticipated.  Poll indicated that a few weeks ago property taxes were down nearly $400,000, but a major landowner has since taken care of their obligation.  The district will compensate for these shortages by transferring the maximum allowable by law from the capital fund to the general fund through the 10% of basic clause.  That transfer is anticipated to be approximately $675,000 depending upon the final budget adjustments that D’Lynn Poll will make during the last week of June.  During the 2009 – 2010 school year, seventy percent of the district’s general fund budget was spent on instruction.  A few years ago, the state legislature was suggesting that all districts needed to spend at least 65% of their general fund on instruction.  Morgan is well ahead of that benchmark.
The budget for the 2010-2011 school year includes an 8% increase in the district’s contribution for employee health insurance, steps and lanes for qualified employees, and two professional development/work days paid from one-time funds.  The district has also budgeted an additional $200,000 to be placed in the capital “pay as you go” account.  If this transfer becomes a reality, the balance of that budget will be approximately $1.4 million.  The district will use additional flexibility in the capital fund provided by the state legislature during their 2010 session to transfer approximately $369,000 more into the general fund from the capital levy.  This money will be used to pay for the two professional development/work days mentioned earlier, increase the district’s retirement reserve account, and reduce class size by hiring five new teachers equal to approximately 3.5 FTE’s (full time equivalency).  There is the possibility of needing a Truth in Taxation hearing on August 10 to increase property taxes in order to offset changes in the state’s certified tax rate in the area of debt service.  Last year’s Truth in Taxation hearing was called off when district officials were able to make changes that allowed them to continue with the same property tax revenues received in the previous year.  It is hoped that the same will be true this year.
    An interesting sideline occurred when the audience for the budget presentations, the budget hearings, and passage of the final budget for one year and the tentative budget for another drew a crowd of three administrators while next door to the board meeting parents were signing up ninety new youth to play in the AYSO soccer program this summer.  The Board and administration expressed their appreciation for the confidence that this community has in the way the district handles its finances.
Superintendent Wolff provided the Board with the final enrollment numbers for the 2009 – 2010 school year as well as the projections, without growth, for enrollment in the fall.  At the end of the school year, total district enrollment was down three students compared to enrollment on October 1, 2009.  Morgan Elementary had a decrease of seventeen students during the school year while Mountain Green Elementary increased enrollment during the year by the same number.  Wolff indicated that class loads in grades K-8 look good for next year although the fifth grade at MGES is a little high with 27 students in each class.  He also indicated that there are already 178 students enrolled in kindergarten for the fall.  That is only four students short of the district’s all time record for kindergarten enrollment with ten weeks left in the summer.  Wolff indicated that if enrollment increases by many more students, there will need to be some consideration for additional staff.
The Board also “accepted the opportunity” to issue $4,000,000 of low interest bonds supported by the Federal QSCB program to expand the physical education/athletic facilities at Morgan High School and construct a new bus garage.  The resolution that was passed on Tuesday evening does not bind the Board in anyway.  The Board is planning on touring the new facility at Bear River High School in July.  If the Board decides to take advantage of the low interest bonds, the debt would be repaid out of capital funds and will not require a bond levy.
The Board also accepted the resignation of Ryan Fink from his position as a physical education teacher at the middle school and appointed Teri Richins as a part-time, job share teacher with Debbie Carter in the fourth grade at Morgan Elementary School.  Kimberly Jensen and Elly Mahon, teaching assistants in the school district, were each granted a leave of absence.  The Board also reviewed a policy that would extend the period of time in which a person had to work before they gained tenure within the school district.
The school board has been involved in a number of work sessions and closed sessions as they prepare to name a new superintendent.  That process will continue next week with a closed session on Tuesday afternoon and a special session on Wednesday.  A new superintendent could be named anytime during the next two weeks.