Capping months of public deliberation and state funding uncertainties, the Blaine school board unanimously approved the budget for the 2011/2012 school year at its monthly meeting August 22.
The low-key vote finalized a budget review process that first began in November 2010 and included two staff and community forums as well as hours of staff and board member involvement.
The budget anticipates slightly more than $21 million in expenditures versus revenue of $20,488,694. A $515,000 plug that came from the collection of delinquent taxes, utility savings, and departmental spending reductions will fill the shortfall.About $11.5 million will be spent on regular instruction, $5 million on support services and $2.6 million on special education. On the revenue side, state general and special purpose funds total $13 million, local property taxes kick in another $5.2 million while federal and other tax revenues add $2.1 million.
District superintendent Ron Spanjer struck a cautionary note with the directors by pointing out the extra $500,000 was not something the district could count on in the future.
“Very soon we won’t be able to do that unless programs are cut or we increase our revenues,” he said, adding that the state now allows school districts to ask voters for funds up to 4 percent higher than the previous year’s expenditures. The administration has just started planning for the maintenance and operations levy that will be on the February special election ballot.
Most school districts in the county will be pushing their M&O levy requests at the same time.The budget as adopted managed to keep most school programs intact; however, the equivalent of eight full-time positions were cut.
In other district news, the board presented school volunteer Bruce Prior with a plaque, recognizing his services in organizing a ham radio operation at the middle school. More than 30 students were involved in the program over the course of the year.
In accepting the certificate, Prior explained to the board why ham radio and Morse code were still relevant in today’s world. He added that while he was grateful to receive the award, he believed that a citizen had two duties to fulfill: to donate blood and to give back to the community through service.
“I was only fulfilling my civic duty,” he said.
Also recognized for his service to the community as Performing Arts Center technician was elementary school librarian Glenn Tuski. The board also commended him for his active role in the Blaine Jazz Festival and the 4th of July parade.