School Board to cut $150,000 from next budgetThe Jamestown Public School Board came to a consensus to cut at least $150,000 from the 2012-2013 school year budget at Monday’s meeting. The district faces estimated deficit spending of $945,125 for the next school year. Dropping between $150,000 and $200,000 from the deficit is the first step toward the long process of having a balanced budget.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown Public School Board came to a consensus to cut at least $150,000 from the 2012-2013 school year budget at Monday’s meeting.
The district faces estimated deficit spending of $945,125 for the next school year. Dropping between $150,000 and $200,000 from the deficit is the first step toward the long process of having a balanced budget.
“We’re in a good enough position with the budget surplus that we have, that we don’t have to go into panic mode,” said JPS Superintendent Bob Toso. “… We do have a healthy surplus and we can take a few years and spend that down, and hopefully through attrition we can meet our budget goals — that’s my long-term plan.”
Eighty percent of the estimated $24,533,268 budget for 2012-2013 is employee salary and benefits. Toso said staff not hired through federal grants will be safe from the first cut.
“I answered truthfully when I said we’re not going to be cutting staff based on cutting the budget, but there are some federal programs we’re going to have trouble with because the money won’t be there,” he said.
JPS administration will present a budget for 2012-2013 in late May or early June with the proposed cuts. The School Board can then reject or approve the proposed budget.
The district has more than $6 million in the reserve fund, but after 2012-2013 the reserve fund could be down to about $5.5 million. Until the budget is balanced the district will keep spending the reserves.
“The last few years, because of stimulus funding and everything else, we really hadn’t had to worry about budget issues,” Toso said. “Every decision virtually that deals with money — and most of our decisions do — is going to have to be scrutinized more carefully.”
School Board member Roy Musland said having to say “No” is going to be difficult after the board worked to get the district in the position it is in now.
“It’s going to be tough to find the reductions, and it’s going to be tougher to add new programs or expenses,” Musland said. “… To me that’s going to be the saddest part, when new and exciting things come,” he said later in the meeting.
Toso suggested the board form a finance committee to streamline the process of cutting the deficit. Four board members would evaluate the options and present their findings to the entire board.
“I think it’s a good way to deal with this because it worked very efficiently the last time we did it,” said Greg Allen, School Board president.
Board member Shelly Jystad said those who serve on the board should look at not accepting payment for their time, if the district wants to eventually have a balanced budget.
“I agree we want to save money too, but we also want to show value to the board members that come to those meetings,” said board member Rosemary McDougall.
No action was taken on the formation of a finance committee.
In other business, the board discussed reducing the number of members and term limits for members.
At previous meetings Musland has wanted to discuss reducing the number of members. On Monday he said the board was “kind of top heavy on members.” Nine people serve on the board.
Allen said the impetus to reduce the number that serve on the board has to come from a petition signed by one-third of the community that voted in the most recent election.
Board member Diane Hanson conducted her own research into the topic of term limits, and presented information to the board on Monday.
North Dakota has no term limits for school board members.
Currently five states impose term limited on school board members, she said. In other states term limit opinions are divided and some districts are different than others.
“I came away from my homework feeling pretty comfortable about how we run things,” Hanson said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com