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Slashing the budget at Bureau Valley

MANLIUS – Brainstorming ways to increase revenue and cut budget expenses is a top priority at Bureau Valley.

The district sold $3 million worth of bonds last year, which was meant to last three years.

However, with lower general state aid, increased expenses and lower transportation reimbursements from the state — among many other setbacks, the district is expecting to burn through $1.5 million of the bond money by the end of this fiscal year.

Ideally, the district has to make the other $1.5 million last until December 2015.

With hands tied, the board’s Finance Committee is looking in every corner and crevasse for ways to control spending over the next few years

At Monday’s board meeting, Finance Committee member Kent Siltman reported on a couple proposals being looked at that could potentially patch the district’s significant deficient.

The most noteworthy proposal is changing employees’ insurance policy. The committee is recommending the adoption of a higher deductible policy in combination with establishing a health savings account. The recommendation, alone, would potentially save the district $200,000, according to Siltman.

“We are shooting for recommendations of the increased revenue and expense reductions to total some place around $700,000, which would hopefully allow the $1.5 million that we have basically in the working cash fund to last the next couple years,” he said. “Ideally, we find $750,000 ball park savings for next year and $750,000 the following year, and hopefully it will last.”

Good news Siltman brought to the table is the future increase in the district’s equalized assessed valuation, which will grow tax revenue. Also, the board’s rewritten risk policy will help collect additional revenue in the tort fund.

Superintendent Dennis Thompson also pointed out the district’s future staff retirements at the end of the school year will save dollars in restaffing.

With the district’s state aid only coming in at 89 percent, it continues to cause detrimental damage to the budget.

“Next year we are being told we will be receiving about 80 percent,” Siltman said. “It will be an additional loss of revenue, which hopefully we will make up a little bit with the increased assessed evaluation but probably not.”

Thompson mentioned the idea of reducing the kindergarten program to part-time next year.

“No one wants to do that,” he said. “But, if you have to do that to make the budget work, that will be a real, real shot. I’ll make the recommendation if I need to, but that doesn’t mean that will be what I really want to do.”

Other items on the chopping block being considered are dropping field trips and restructuring the athletic program. Thompson said summer employees will be cut to six, and there has been discussion on using the district’s own maintenance staff rather than hiring contractors for the various needed summer projects throughout the district.

In other business, the board:

• Scheduled a special meeting to seat newly-elected board members at 7:30 p.m. May 6.

• Approved the 2013-14 IHSA membership.

• Accepted the 2013 Per Capita Library Grant of $804.75.

• Accepted the resignations of Jennifer Lucas, Wyanet pre-kindergarten teacher; Linda Carr, BVN teacher aide; and Daun Greif, BEST program art teacher. All resignations are effective at the end of the school year.

• Approved the employment of cafeteria substitute workers: Jean Sheppard for BV North, Ashley Schmidt for BV South, Connie Fairbanks and Barb Karl for Wyanet.

• Agreed to implement tuition waiver fees for out-of-district students of full-time employees at Bureau Valley School District. The out-of-district students fee will be zero, and the school will collect general state aid on each student.

• Adopted a resolution of non-re-employment of Kathy Scheri, Bureau County Cooperative Alternative School for the 2013-14 school year.

• Adopted a resolution of dismissal of teacher Karen Henderson for the 2013-14 school year.

• Adopted a resolution of non-re-employment of probationary teachers Jill Karsa and Amber Sessler for the 2013-14 school year.

• Honorably dismissed educational support personnel Josh Bell, John Roberts, Jane Miller, Patricia Dean, Jennifer York, Jessica Lannen and Maranda Coomer at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

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