Dozens of people showed up at recent LUHS Board of Education meetings when the hiring of the boys’ head basketball coach was being hotly debated.
Apparently the interest in the district’s annual budget is far less because there were no members of the general public who attended the district’s annual meeting and budget hearing Monday night.
After about a 30-minute public budget hearing which consisted of a presentation on the district’s proposed budget for 2012-13, the annual meeting took less than five minutes after no members of the public were there to ask questions or vote on the proposal.
The budget that gained final approval calls for a mill rate of $1.99 per thousand of property value – up about 5 cents per thousand from last year’s rate.
For the owner of a $100,000 home in the district that would mean they would pay an extra $5 to the school district during the 2012-13 budget year. That’s an increase of 2.58 percent.
The district’s total levy is also down from previous years. The total levy for the 2012-13 school year will be $11,501,584 – that’s a decrease of about 3.4 percent from the previous year’s total levy of $11,908,717. The 2011-12 total levy was also a decrease of about 8.3 percent from the 2010-11 levy of $12,984,054 which was the highest in the district’s history.
Finance manager Louise Fischer said the district had to work on the budget with several factors in mind: A decrease in revenues, a decrease in state aid, a drop in student enrollment and a drop in the district’s equalized property value.
According to Fischer’s report in 2010-11 the district received approximately $833,990 from the state in the form of aid. That fell to approximately $622,900 in 2011-12 and finally to approximately $250,000 for the 2012-13 school year.
Fischer said final numbers on exactly how much aid the district will receive from the state for the school year will come soon because the September student count was recently completed. Those figures were provided to the state and the amount of state aid will be calculated in connection with the number of students enrolled in the district.
Other budget factors
Fischer also mentioned other factors that must be taken into account when preparing the annual school district budget.
“Approximately 69 percent of our operational budget is allocated for employees’ salaries and benefits,” Fischer said. “This includes salary and benefits also paid to special education staff. In addition to teachers, administrators, custodians and support staff, seasonal employees, curriculum, staff development and early retirement benefits are also included in this figure.”
Fischer said transportation costs are also a large budget item for the district each year.
“As the state’s largest school district in area, transportation comprises a major portion of the LUHS budget,” Fischer said. “LUHS transportation is provided by an outside contractor and annual increases are contractually agreed upon, However, the district is susceptible to the volatility of global fuel costs.”
Board president Tom Gabert commented on the lack of attendance by the public at Monday’ annual and budget meetings.
“I think any and all interest the community shows in the school is a good thing. Many people find school finance hard to understand,” Gabert said. “Over the years we have tried to make the annual meeting informative. We look for community input. If anyone has questions or comments they are welcome to contact Dr. Kleinhans or Louise Fischer, the finance manager.”
Also during the annual meeting salaries for the board of education were set for the 2012-13 school year. There were no changes. Board members will continue to be paid $2,400 per year with the board president being paid $2,500 per year.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at email@example.com.