New budget adopted by Evart schools

All-employee wage freeze sought to provide funds balance

EVART – Although many aspects of its finances remain uncertain, Evart Public Schools Board of Education moved forward in approving a budget for the 2012-13 school year Wednesday evening. With an estimated $8.88 million available to appropriate in the upcoming school year, Evart is working with just under $1 million less than in the past school year. Teacher, bus driver and support staff contracts expire this year and will need to be re-negotiated, and the district is estimating how much it will receive in state aid and what its student enrollment will be. Most of the reduced revenue will be compensated for by taking money from the fund balance. The district ended the 2011-12 school year with $972,971 in its fund balance, after spending $231,770  in the past year. At the end of the 2012-13 school year, Superintendent Howard Hyde predicts having only $287,168 in the district’s fund balance. The district will spend $685,804 from that fund, or more than three-quarters, in the upcoming school year. “This (fund balance amount) scares me,” Hyde said. “In another year, I don’t know what’s going to happen.” Evart will reduce its expenses by not replacing two teachers who retired. Hyde also plans on a wage freeze for all district employees – something that has never been done before, he said. However, teacher and bus driver contracts won’t be negotiated until August and support staff contracts won’t be negotiated until December, so whether that wage freeze will be reality remains to be seen. Also assumed in the budget:
  • Evart will lose 28 students, which will be a loss of $195,048;
  • From the state, the district will receive an additional $120 per student as part of its foundation allowance, $49,000 for meeting seven of eight best practice requirements, $66,900 for meeting academic performance standards;
  • The retirement rate will land at 25.67 percent, which is an increase from last year but not as high as originally predicted for the upcoming school year. That rate will cost Evart an extra $60,000; and
  • The district will save money by locking in its gas costs a year at a time, which Evart has done in the past as well.
Hyde explained that while the district could potentially receive an additional $183,400 in state funding, it also lost $412,332 in one-time funding delivered last year in the form of state best practice incentives, an offset of the retirement rate and the remainder of federal EduJob funding. Also at the meeting, the board:
  • Accepted the resignation of former high school principal Alan Kullman from all positions at Evart Public Schools. Kullman is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a 14-year-old female student. He has been on leave from the school since May 29;
  • Approved Diamond Asphalt, based in Elwell, to fill cracks and repair potholes in the high school parking lot for $12,350. Hyde said funds for the project were designated in the 2011-12 budget;
  • Approved a change in the board members’ terms from four years to six years in order to rotate with the new election schedule, as mandated by the state.
The board will meet again at 7 p.m. on July 9 for a financial re-organizational meeting.