Schools short of cash

By Bryan Richardson

USD 383 has an expected budget shortfall due to enrollment projections not being reached.

Budget director Lew Faust told the school board Wednesday that the district has to find $574,294 in savings within the budget.

“Not what you want to have happen, but that’s where we sit,” he said.

The 2013-14 budget was built on an enrollment increase of 125 students, but enrollment remained flat against numbers from last year, based on the Sept. 20 count date.

Faust said enrollment declined by 30 students from the end of last school year.

Faust detailed $968,965 in potential reductions, including $691,840 in items considered “Priority Level 1.”

These top-priority items include keeping an elementary school teacher position unfilled and reducing transfers to other funds.

Over the past four years, Faust said the district has averaged $400,000 in leftover funds at the end of a budget year.

Board member Darell Edie, who is a controller for Geary Community Hospital, said a budget is a best-guess scenario that depends on a lot of factors.

“We’re actually doing well in keeping our spending down all the time,” he said.

Supt. Bob Shannon said decline in military students may possibly have played a factor in the district’s enrollment not meeting projections.

The district’s military student enrollment declined by 137 from October 2012 to the same month in 2013.

The district’s second count date in February, due to being in a military community, could change the district’s budget authority even further.

The district projects an increase of 79 students for second count date.

“It could take us further down if we don’t reach that,” Faust said.

The board also approved the following items:

* The purchase of two 27-passenger buses, three 71-passenger buses and one activity bus.

* The purchase of 53 desktop computers and 200 laptops.

* The purchase of library furniture at Bluemont Elementary, Marlatt Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Elementary and Manhattan High’s east campus.

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