School district OKs new budgets

by nathan oster

Big Horn County School District No. 3’s annual budget hearing was a quiet affair, as no one from the public commented on the proposed spending of the school district, recreation district or the new BOCES collaboration between the school district and Northwest College.

As a result, all three budgets were ultimately approved.

The school district is projected to received $4.46 million for its Foundation Guarantee and another $3.75 million in county taxes.  Those are the two largest components of its total projected revenues of $8.457 million bottom line.

For the first time since 2008-09, the district’s cash carry over exceeds $1 million.

On the expenditures side, the district is budgeted to pay $4.7 million in salaries, $400 in benefits, $1.06 million in insurance premiums, and $689,000 in Wyoming retirement benefits.

The line items for elementary instruction ($75,000) and middle school instruction ($68,000) represent increases, while the instructional budget for the high school dropped to $159,000 from $161,000 last year.

When asked about other budget highlights, Bryant said the district will $111,000 for an instructional facilitator, but won’t have an instructional facilitator on staff.  Instead, those monies will be distributed to three different employees — Kerri Thiel at GES, Cheryl Hunt at GMS and Bob Leach at GHS.

In total, the district is projecting $8.44 million in expenditures.

Bryant said the district also plans to up its spending on technology.

As part of the regular agenda, the board approved the terms of a Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) agreement with Northwest College.  According to the agreement, the purpose of the BOCES is to provide Big Horn County School District No. 3 students and patrons “with opportunities for educational services including, but not limited to, post-secondary education, vocational-technical education and adult education.”

The BOCES will be funded with a one-half mill levy, which is expected to generate $65,000 annually. The school district won’t receive any of that money before December, so it has some time to refine its budget.

The one that was presented and approved during last week’s meeting earmarked $7,000 for salaries, $1,000 for supplies, $15,000 for dual and concurrent enrollment classes, $15,000 for driver’s education, $15,000 for community education and $12,000 for community arts and theater education.

The school board must appoint four members to serve on the BOCES board.  Trustee Selena Brown has already volunteered to do so.

Specifics of the recreation district’s budget were covered in a story that appeared in last week’s issue.  The budget projects $215,673 in revenues, up from the $197,136 projection for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The rec district shows modest spending increases in multiple line items, including capital outlay, events, community classes, intramurals, office supplies, supplies and roller rink equipment.

In other business:

• The board accepted the resignation of Richard Coons, who had been serving as a bus driver.

With school now less than a month away, the district has just one teaching opening and it’s for a special education teacher at the elementary school

Kimberlee Peebles had accepted the job and signed a contract with the district, but backed out of the commitment in June, leaving the district in a bind.

“We’re still working on it,” said Bryant.

One of the applicants is a local resident, but if hired, that person would need to become certified to teach special education.

“Trying to hire a special education person is hard, but trying to hire a special education person in the summer is almost impossible,” said Bryant.  While he doesn’t want to start the year with the position unstaffed, Bryant said the district won’t settle.

“It’s not just about finding someone…it’s going to have to be the right person,” he said.

• A retreat for school board members and the administrative team has been set for Wednesday, Sept. 4 at the Big Horn County Weed and Pest building near the intersection of U.S. Highway 14-16-20 and U.S. Highway 310.

• The district has received raw data from the 2012-13 round of the Proficiency Assessment of Wyoming Students (PAWS).  “The scores look pretty decent, but I’m a little worried about the elementary school — and the group that didn’t make it last year (Free and Reduced Lunch subgroup).”

Reading scores appear to have suffered, but on the plus side, “math scores look really good.  The third grade tested at 100 percent proficient; several others were at 90 percent or better,” Bryant told the board.

• The board approved an out-of-district request from Michael and Pam Gorski, who reside in Basin.  The Gorskis want to enroll their five children in Greybull schools, and included among them are twins who will be going into kindergarten.

• There was only one administrative report — and it came from Bryant, the superintendent.

He said a walk-through of all the projects revealed good progress at the Buff Gym, where the locker rooms are being upgraded. All the drywall work is done and the lockers are in.  The contractor must still install the flooring in the hallway.

Trustee Mike Meredith called it “a big improvement.”

Added Bryant: “It’s the best tile work I’ve ever seen.”

One summer project that remains on the to-do list is a concrete sidewalk on the ground of the elementary school. When complete, it will run from the back of the building to where the buses park.  The job is expected to cost around $2,600.

A pre-bid meeting was held with the six firms interested in designing the new middle school.  Bids are due July 29.  Bryant said his preference is to get as much of the planning as possible done prior to the 2014 legislative session, so that construction work can begin around July 1.

If things go as planned, the new middle school would open in the fall of 2015.

“That’s what we’re shooting for anyway,” Bryant said.

Turning to the pool, Bryant reported that there have been delays in the asbestos abatement process, but that demolition is still expected to occur sometime this fall.  The parking lots will remain, but the site of the current pool building will be converted to green space for use as a practice field.

On two final facility-related notes, Bryant reported that the GHS track is in line to get resurfaced during the summer of 2014 and that he intends to approach the School Facilities Commission in the coming months to request a modular addition to the elementary school.

The current GES has a capacity of 227 students.

As of the night of meeting, its projected enrollment was 217 — and the district expects to add a few new students in the early days of the new school year.