Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Middletown Unified starts budget process

MIDDLETOWN – The Middletown Unified School District board has begun the process of putting together its 2009-10 budget.


The district board conducted a budget workshop at its March 25 meeting to begin the development of the budget for the coming fiscal year, said Superintendent Korby Olson.


Olson presented the current state of the budget and a list of reductions that the board could consider.


He said the bottom line is $1,030,000 in cuts are needed due to reductions in state funding and declining enrollment.


On the list of possible reductions is bus transportation for students, which Olson said he wasn't recommending because it would be a very “drastic” step.


He reported to the board that it costs $275,000 to bus students from home to school.


The district's board has considered charging for busing in the past, including a discussion held last year, as Lake County News has reported. However, the district board has so far chosen not to pursue that step.


Olson said a charge of $1 per day would likely generate $45,000, and the board agreed that it is something to be considered.


Setting up a system to charge for bus ridership would require the district to create a specific infrastructure, Olson told Lake County News.


He suggested that charging for busing likely would need to be tied to benefiting a program, rather than just seeking district savings.


Other possible reductions to help the district meet its needed savings include reducing energy use. Olson said a 10-percent reduction in electrical use amounts to a savings of $20,000. Simple steps like removing classroom refrigerators, and turning computers and monitors completely off would also reduce costs, he said.


The district's current remodeling projects have energy savings included, Olson added.


Other items on the list of possible reductions include mailings, travel and conference expense, and reduced copying expense. The list of reductions totaled $153,000, Olson said.


Because of the March 15 deadline for notifying teachers, the board had already taken action to eliminate teaching and administrative positions totaling $730,000 in savings. These savings come at the expense of programs that have a positive impact on students.


In other action the board considered a first reading of the school calendar. The proposed calendars both included a school start date prior to Labor Day. The first version has school beginning on Aug. 25, with two student holidays on the Thursday and Friday Prior to Labor Day to accommodate student participation in the Lake County Fair.


This calendar includes a week off at Thanksgiving, two weeks at winter break in December and one week at spring break in April. School would let out on June 11. The second version begins one week later and ends one week later. The board will gather additional input from parents and select a calendar at its next meeting.


The board also approved a master plan for the high school stadium area. The design was created by the district’s architectural firm TLCD. The plans include a complete complex for football, track and tennis in the existing space.


Olson said the master plan includes everything that might be included, but the current budget for the project will only support the replacement of the bleachers, a snack bar and restroom facility and improvements to the parking and entrance areas.


The designs for this first phase are currently being prepared for submission to the Division of the State Architect for approval. The construction is slated to begin following the football season in December.


The next board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, in the Cobb Mountain Elementary School multi-use building, 15895 Highway 175, Cobb.

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