'A favorable year'

District estimated to receive additional $400,000 from mineral lease revenue

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In other action

At its meeting Thursday night, the Moffat County School Board:

• Passed, 4-0, a proposal for a chaperoned 10-day trip to Spain that Moffat County High School plans to host during spring break next year.

• Passed, 4-0, a proposal to open bidding of two properties currently owned by the School District. The first parcel, located near Seventh and Breeze streets, contains 10 city lots and has an estimated value of $175,000 to $190,000, School District officials said. The School District rents the lot to Tunies & Such, an area tree and shrub company, in exchange for landscaping services at district schools.

The School Board also plans to bid out an 8.5-acre lot located north of 13th Street, which has an estimated value between $80,000 and $165,000.

• Passed, 4-0, a second reading of a policy regarding salary schedules.

• Passed, 4-0, first reading of a policy and regulation regarding intra-district school choice and open enrollment.

• Passed, 4-0, a proposal to adopt a new district-wide physical education curriculum, which combines health and physical education curriculums from kindergarten through 12th grades.

• Passed, 4-0, a proposal to approve 15 school clubs for the 2008-09 school year, including three clubs at Craig Middle School that were cut last year because of the district's lack of funds.

— If current predictions hold true, Moffat County School District could see an additional $500,000 coming into its coffers by the end of next month.

The School District's forecasted revenue for the 2007-08 fiscal year shows the district is scheduled to receive $650,00 in county mineral leases - $400,000 more than the district initially budgeted for - by June 30th, or the end of the fiscal year.

That sum, combined with other unbudgeted revenue, could add about $500,000 to the district's coffers, said Mark Rydberg, School District finance director.

"I think we're going to have a favorable year," Rydberg said.

Rydberg presented the projected 2009 budget to the Moffat County School Board during its meeting Thursday night. A group of School District administrators, including Rydberg, have spent several months developing the budget.

The School District already has received the lion's share of its county mineral lease allotment this year.

According to a district financial statement, $479,105 in county mineral lease revenue already was in the district's possession last month. That's nearly double the $250,000 total the School District budgeted for the entire fiscal year.

Those added dollars will be deposited into the School District's fund balance, Rydberg said, an account that supplements annual revenue.

The fund balance is unrestricted and acts like a savings account, covering expenses that exceed the School District's annual budget.

Next year, that fund will cover a projected $42,831 deficit in the School District's budget, according to a 2009 budget summary Rydberg presented to the School Board.

The fund balance is predicted to contain more than $5 million, or about 30 percent of the general fund's operating expenses, by the end of the fiscal year.

In the past, the fund balance also has been used to fund school programs and building improvements, Rydberg said.

Although numbers indicate a healthy financial future is in store for the School District next year, the School District isn't counting on receiving another bonus of the same magnitude next year.

Revenue projections for the district's general fund show $400,000 budgeted for county mineral lease revenue, or $250,000 less than what it received this year.

"Each year is its own animal," Rydberg said, adding that next year's projected county mineral lease funds were based off estimates provided by Jeff Comstock, Moffat County Natural Resources Department director.

Comstock did not return calls Thursday.

While deficits still exist in the proposed budget, Superintendent Pete Bergmann said this year's numbers were "better than last year."

At the State of the County event in February, Bergmann said the School District stood at a "critical crossroads" financially in 2008.

However, higher-than-anticipated mineral and tax revenues, coupled with decreased expenditures and rising revenues have helped establish stability in the district, he said.

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