At last week’s school budget workshop, Business Administrator Peter Curro proposed the District fund a warrant article for architecture and design costs for the proposed community auditorium, a cost of $500,000, with year-end surplus.
Board member Steve Young expressed his disapproval with the proposal, arguing the warrant article should be funded with tax money if the voters approve the expenditure.
“A $202,000 in the Capital Reserve for a $65 million District is laughable,” Young said. “Half a million shouldn’t go the auditorium bond. We voted to put it on the ballot and let voters decide.”
“Nothing is etched in stone,” Curro said, noting the District will make changes based on the direction of the Board.
The School Board also considered budget requests for buildings and grounds, the Information Technology (IT) department, and the athletic department.
The FY16 budget request for buildings and grounds is $1.9 million, a decrease of about $12,000 from the FY15 budget, according to Facilities Director Chuck Zappala.
The department has saved the District over $5.3 million since 2001 through its Energy Conservation Program, maintaining 687,000 square feet across eight buildings.
The only major project scheduled in the next fiscal year is a large asbestos removal program at Matthew Thornton Elementary School, funded through a warrant article.
The IT department, which represents less than 1 percent of the District’s total budget, is requesting $475,375, which represents a budget decrease from FY15 of 11 percent.
Having purchased needed equipment last year, the department made no funding request for new equipment.
The athletic department’s budget included an increase for equipment replacement, which includes $54,200 for the first-year payment for the purchase of two minibuses.
Curro said the buses offer coaches and students flexibility in traveling to and from games and are heavily used, but the District rarely has to turn down or juggle a request for use of a mini bus.
“It seems to be working great,” he said, noting in the past, when two teams would take full-size buses to a game, they would have to wait until both teams played to go home.
With the minibuses, teams can leave after their own game, getting coaches and students home sooner.
The District purchased two minibuses in 2009; a third minibus was lease-purchased in 2011.
“We’re just replacing the original two minibuses we lease-purchased in 2009,” Curro said. “When we buy them, they’re already 3 to 4 years old. We’ve had the original two minibuses for six years, so they’re 9 and 10 years now. We’re getting to the point where maintenance is at a point we should turn these in and get 3- or 4-year-old ones.”
Finally, the Board considered budgets for the School Board ($26,600), Audit and Legal ($68,000), District Office ($302,750), Business Services ($31,000), transportation ($2.3 million), employee benefits ($17.6 million), and debt service ($2.9 million).
The total amount for those budget items is $23.3 million.
Curro said it has been recommended the District add one new bus to the fleet for projected growth at a cost of about $50,000 and reported the health insurance budget is up $621,448, but the District will receive an operating surplus from healthcare providers.