School district budget up slightly in 2014-15

The proposed Aberdeen School District budget for 2014-15 is up slightly over this year, and no layoffs or significant cuts are planned, according to figures unveiled at the school board meeting Tuesday evening.

The proposed $38.7 million budget represents an increase of about $1.3 million over the previous year, and does not propose to dip into the district’s reserves. The district would enter the year with a beginning balance of just more than $3.1 million, and the budget projects to end the year with about $5,000 more than that.

“Maintaining a healthy fund balance to avoid mid-year shortages to cover routine expenditures and/or unforeseen emergencies is critical,” the budget summary released by Superintendent Tom Opstad says. Those fund projections represent an ending fund balance at or above the board-approved 5 percent minimum.

Opstad reviewed the summary with board president Sandra Bielski and members Jeremy Hawkins, Christi Boora and Jennifer Hagen during a hearing on the budget that preceded the regular board meeting. The proposed budget will be on the district website soon, he said.

Opstad noted he likes to be conservative in budget estimates.

Enrollment is up slightly, as of May 2014, enrollment was 3,132, more than the estimated 3,030.

“Based on the past four years, we are projecting that enrollment will continue to be relatively flat,” and the full-time equivalent enrollment for 2014-15 is projected to be 3,086. The district is watching elementary school enrollment, which is up slightly.

Staffing classrooms and providing teaching and learning support takes up 82 percent of the budget.

“Our monthly payroll contributes approximately $2.3 million to the local economy,” the summary adds.

The district has not issued any Reduction In Force notifications, or RIFs, this year or last year. Those notices, informing teachers that their jobs are at risk, are required to be issued in the spring.

“There’s really nothing earth shaking, news-wise, in the district,” said Aberdeen Education Association President Joan Lesman Wednesday. “We aren’t looking to RIF nor have we been directed to skimp and save — more than the usual!” Lesman added.

The biggest line item in the budget is Basic Education, which takes up 46.5 percent of the spending. Special education, learning assistance and a fund for disadvantaged students also spend into the millions.

District support is allocated $5.3 million, food service, $1.9 million.

Revenue for the district comes from three main sources, the summary said. The state provides most of it, which is based on student enrollment through an apportionment process.

The other two sources are federal and local money contributed by levies and property taxes.

The state provides money for basic education, special education, learning assistance, bilingual education and transportation funding. No bus purchases are planned for 2014-15.

The federal government is expected to provide more than $4.5 million to support operations. Some local funding is spent as voters dictate in special levies and provides tuition for programs such as preschool and daycare as well as the purchase of breakfast and lunch tickets, the summary said.

Copies of the budget are available at the district office at 216 N. G St. and will be posted online. Opstad and Business Manager David Herrington are happy to answer questions, the superintendent said.

The board plans to vote on the budget at its next regular meeting on July 15, at 7 p.m. at the community room in Aberdeen High School.

Erin Hart, 360-537-3932, Twitter: @DW_Erin


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