EVART — For most people, planning a budget isn’t exactly the most exciting process around.

Often like watching paint dry, or grass grow.

For school district planners around the county and state.

Things are tough and getting tougher.

For the Evart Public Schools district, the 2011-12 budget was passed on time, but there were no smiles at the Board of Education table as trustees made approved the suggested budget.

“We had a pretty standard business meeting in passing the 2011-12 budget,” reported district superintendent Howard Hyde. “There just isn’t a lot of enthusiasm or excitement in getting his process completed. It has been a hard time for everyone involved.”

Hyde described his district’s new budget in less that glowing terms.

“The budget is ugly — very ugly,” he said.

“The year we completed from 2010-11 will be wrapped up with about $1,182,000 in our fund balance,” he reported.

“We thought there would be less, but we simply quit spending money on anything.

“But ... next year, in our worst case scenario, we will need to over-spend to the tune of $831,000. That leaves us with very little left in the fund balance. Very, very little.

“Having a fund balance of $350,000 is not very healthy.”

Hyde reported that the district would continue to make changes and adjustments in order to try and build up the fund balance wherever possible.

“We still aren’t done with making cuts,” he pointed out.

“We may be making changes in our transportation program. We will be putting transportation out for bid to see what can of savings can be expected in that department.

“We’ll be taking a look at every department and area of our operation. This is something we’ve been doing, but the cuts will be getting even deeper and it is going to hurt.”

Hyde said the “highlight” of passing the 2011-12 budget is in the fact that the budget was passed — full stop.

On the downside, the budget passed with layoffs and deep program adjustments.

The EPS district has just recently seen the layoffs of six support staff, the district’s school nurse, the athletic director, (which position Hyde will apparently be filling — with no pay), three teachers, and adjusted one teacher’s schedule to part-time.

“And we may see still more layoffs and cuts,” Hyde pointed out.

“We are going to need to make continuing budget adjustments in order to pull in a thousand dollars here and a thousand dollars there.

“Anything we can do, we will do.

“Honestly, things are getting pretty desperate in our district.

“Our fund balance is going to be well below ten percent — actually probably below 5 percent.

“We are all concerned.

“Nobody on the Board is using the ‘bankruptcy’ word just yet, but it’s out there.

“Trying to get a budget passed that will answer the needs of our students is no joke, and it certainly shouldn’t be a political game.”