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District 424 still $1 million short for 2013

GENOA – Genoa-Kingston School District 424 passed its fiscal 2013 budget Tuesday with a projected deficit of about $1 million.

During a public hearing, Brad Shortridge, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said the district expects to receive about $11.5 million in local revenues, which makes up about 62 percent of the budget.

Local revenues include property taxes, impact fees from new development and interest.

The district also expects to receive about $6.3 million from the state, which makes up about 33 percent to the budget. The final 5 percent of the budget comes from federal revenue, which is expected to contribute just under $1 million next fiscal year.

Expenditures, however, are expected to be slightly more than revenues. Board member Laurie Nesler said as the district gets less money from the state each year, it gets harder to pass a budget because the schools are running out of options for cutting expenditures. Board president Dale Pelley agreed.

“If [the state] paid us 100 percent of what they said they would pay, which has gone up year after year, we would be in the black,” he said.

The district has $19.7 million budgeted for expenditures, which is about $1 million more than the $18.7 million expected in revenues. The bulk of expenditures – $12.2 million – goes toward salaries, making up 62 percent of the budget.

Shortridge did point out that the district has cut its supplies costs almost in half in the past few years. Supplies used to take up about 12 percent of the budget, but now take up 7.5 percent and are expected to cost the district about $1.4 million next fiscal year.

As of July 2012, the district had a cash balance of $13.5 million. By June 2013, Shortridge expects the district to have a cash balance of about $12.4 million.

All board members who were present voted to pass the budget. Steve Caldwell was absent.

After working for more than a year on collective bargaining talks that reached an impasse in June, the board approved a collective bargaining agreement Tuesday that Superintendent Joe Burgess said received “overwhelming” support from the Genoa-Kingston Education Association when members voted Monday night.

There’s a salary freeze in the first year of the three-year contract, but certified staff members get an extra $700 at the end of fiscal year 2012-2013, and classified staff get an extra $500.

Certified staff members get a 2.5 percent base salary increase in the second year of the contract and a 2.75 percent base salary increase in the third. Classified staff members get a 2.75 base salary increase in the second year of the contract and a 3 percent increase in the third year.

The district also changed its salary structure from nine lanes to five lanes, which means the district condensed some of its salary increase steps. The union represents about 230 district employees.

“Both sides looked at what’s best for the district in the long run,” Burgess said.

The board also approved a food service partnership Tuesday, which is expected to help pare down the budget deficit in the future.

When the board voted against outsourcing its food services earlier this year, district officials began looking at other ways to save in that area. The board voted to partner with Aramark Education, which will manage its food services and become its supplies vendor.

Shortridge said Aramark had the lowest bid with a $270,000 cost over three years. The company would bring in two people to run the program – a food service manager and a director. Shortridge stressed that district employees would still remain district employees. He expects the district to save about $140,000 over three years. The district has the option to renew the contract after the first year.

The partnership includes a second meal option for elementary school students, which Shortridge said is one of the keys to increasing lunch participation.

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