By Naomi Hatch –
The Snowflake School District Governing Board approved the tentative fiscal year 2012-13 June 21. The final budget can decrease before passage, but it cannot increase from the amount approved last week.
The budget decreased from $2,491,458 for fiscal year 2011-12 to $2,429,338 for the coming fiscal year, according to Business Manager Mark Ollerton, who noted, “Even today it was changed again, but that’s our final number right now.” Ollerton explained that the changes resulted in part from legislative action that will affect maintenance and operations, soft capital and building renewal funds.
Ollerton reminded the board members that in May they approved a transfer of $500,000 from maintenance and operations to capital outlay in order to purchase items that were needed by the district.
“The Indian gaming money is going down,” said Ollerton. “We’re aggressively utilizing that for the first time.” He explained that they are using that money for the new program Beyond Textbooks for such things as training.
The Site Fund from Proposition 301 money has decreased, he explained, stating, “Federal and state projects are going to be estimated. We don’t have any numbers yet. Those will fine tune themselves as we go through the year.”
Unrestricted capital will decrease, Ollerton said, noting, “There was a list of things we needed to purchase this year. We got real serious about it the last week of May.”
Ollerton explained the qualifying tax rate (QTR) that sets a level for the district through a formula was $1.76 this fiscal year and will increase to $1.95 next fiscal year, which raised the bar so taxpayers will be responsible for $4.1 million, which is higher than the amount this fiscal year. “The state, two years in a row has changed QTR and state legislation has reduced taxes,” explained District Superintendent Hollis Merrell. “That burden is being shifted to the citizens. It will impact the people who have a second home.
Ollerton said that the Summary of School District Proposed Expenditure Budget form will be available on the school website and through the state website for citizens to review. There will be a public hearing on the budget prior to final adoption.
In other action June 21, the board:
* Unanimously approved the dates for the 2012-13 governing board meetings, which will be held at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month.
* Approved a request to use the request for proposal (RFP) process to obtain mental health counseling services for the district.
* Approved termination of the employment of three transportation aides.
Merrell explained that previously the RFP proposal submitted by First Student included transportation aides as part of the contract in the bidding process because they were hired by the school district, and in turn those aides were provided for the special needs buses. He noted that it made more sense to have First Student hire the aides.
Board member John Stewart asked why the contract did not state that these aides would be hired by Students First.
Board member Shea Flake said that he didn’t feel comfortable telling a company whom to hire.
Transportation Director Mike Lomeli explained that these aides could apply for the positions through them, and if they pass the fingerprinting and background check, they would be given priority. It was noted that only one aide has applied for a position with First Student, but the firm’s staff has made attempts to contact the others.
* Approved a contract with First Student with a three percent increase, and the district will keep the existing bus fleet of 1999 or newer buses.
It was noted that the governing board previously approved the purchase of several used buses that would update the age of the fleet. Eight vendors were notified bids were being accepted and two were actively involved in the process, but only one vendor responded, Student First.
Its proposal was complete, met the needs of the district and the firm has an excellent track record.
* Held the second reading and approved a policy not to allow early entry kindergarten students.
The board previously made a decision to not allow early entry kindergarten students, but the policy had not been revised.
* Approved a request by Kent Drugge to purchase a new storage system for 40,345 from Custom Storage to provide a system that will provide back-up space for 20 server images and file storage for teachers and staff members.
* Unanimously approved the 2012-13 school year schedule for grades K-8.
The major change was to schedule early releases each Friday for K-8 schools.