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Budget work begins

Posted 7/29/09 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Thanks to a one-time receipt of $380,000 from flood control money the district received for Corps of Engineers land within the school district, the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 ended its 2008-2009 fiscal year with a budget surplus of $218,754.
But according to the preliminary 2009-2010 budget presented to the school board on Monday, July 21, the district will see more red ink in the coming year.
“Our new budget anticipates a budget deficit anywhere from $300,000 to $400,000 in the coming year,” states Steve Holen, district superintendent. “That is basically where we would have ended up this past year except that we received the $380,000 in federal flood control money.”
According to Holen, based on current enrollment numbers, the district can expect to see the same revenue that it has received in the past from the state as well as similar revenue receipts from oil and gas production.
The biggest change in the district’s revenue stream will be the significant reduction in local property tax dollars going to the school district as a result of a new state law passed this last session.
“School districts now have to levy under 110 mills according to the new state law,” stated Holen. “The state is now picking up the difference in those lost local mill dollars.”
In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 received $1,890,739.75 in local property taxes. For the new fiscal year, the district will be asking local property owners to fund $1,220,000 of the district’s expenses.
“Right now we are budgeting $6,737,233.73 as our budget for the 2009-2010 school year,” stated Holen. “But this is very much a preliminary budget and the board will be working on it over the next two meetings before it is finalized.”
According to Holen, the 2009-2010 budget also includes $475,000 in one-time federal stimulus money which must be spent over the next two years.
When the federal stimulus money is not taken into consideration, the district’s preliminary budget provides for a $447,662 increase over last year’s budget expenditures of $5,814,571.71.
“The loss that we are looking at is disturbing,” stated Holen. “But we have to remember that a significant portion of our budget is in teacher salaries; and since we have a veteran teaching staff with many years of experience our salaries are high.”
In other business, the school board:
• Approved the Pledge of Assets for local financial institutions covering the district’s certificates of deposits.
•Approved the Business Manager’s annual report.
• Was updated on the installation of steps at the athletic field.
• Approved hiring Marie Heller as the cook at Watford City High School at a salary of $14.05 per hour.
• Was informed that all district staff has been hired and that the open bus driver position is in the process of being filled.
• Gave the administration approval to spend the $67,180 in federal stimulus funds to hire one additional staff member at the elementary school for the 2009-2010 school year.
• Was informed that WilMac will be placing Erin Swenson at the high school and the elementary school.
• Approved a tuition-free agreement with the Killdeer School District for Sam and Jake McAlpin to attend Killdeer and approved sending a tuition-free agreement to the Mandaree School District to allow Troy and Jace Johnson to attend McKenzie County Public School District No. 1.
• Elected Kelly Norby and Pam Ramage as board president and vice president, respectively.
• Approved naming Supt. Holen as the district’s representative for federal title programs.
• Approved Supt. Holen as the district’s representative for the WilMac Special Education administrative board.
• Approved a motion stating that the district does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or handicap and that the district is an equal opportunity employer and that it acknowledges Veteran’s preference law in its hiring process.
• Approved naming the McKenzie County Farmer as the district’s official newspaper for the 2009-2010 school year.
• Approved hiring the McKennett Law Firm as the district’s legal counsel for the 2009-2010 school year.
• Approved advertising for gasoline and diesel fuel bids for the 2009-2010 school year.
The next meeting of the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11.