Hayden district’s balance dwindles | CraigDailyPress.com

Hayden district’s balance dwindles

School Board accepts audit, plans for budget cuts in 2010-11

Jack Weinstein

— If the Hayden School District continues to spend at its current rate, it will deplete its fund balance this fiscal year, its auditor told the School Board on Tuesday night. 

Pam Taylor, of Colorado CPA Services' office in Craig, said the district ended fiscal year 2008 with a $1.06 million fund balance. But it ended fiscal year 2009, on June 30, with more than $384,000. 

"This is the lowest the fund balance has been in some time," said Taylor, who began her presentation of the audit by saying she has worked on the district's audit for eight years. 

She said a majority of the reduction in the fund balance, about $660,000, was used to complete the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center.  

"We knew it was coming," School Board President Brian Hoza said. "It was a conscious decision to build that building. Now we're in recovery mode."

Board members voted, 5-0, to accept the 2008-09 audit, which didn't present any "disagreements" with the district about its financial accounting, reporting or auditing. Nor did it find any "significant and unusual transactions."

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Taylor mentioned three positives revealed from the audit. Those included the district's lunch fund, which made cuts last year; the district's activity funds; and the district's having very little annual debt service. 

Hoza said it was important for the district to budget wisely for the 2010-11 school year — something the board began doing Tuesday night. 

Board members unanimously approved a budget reduction process to address a projected $300,000 budget shortfall for next school year. 

The process will engage a district budget committee consisting of staff members, who will be responsible for creating and distributing surveys to the district population, including other staff members, parents, community members, businesses and groups. The committee also will compile the survey results to present recommendations to district administration to make budget decisions. 

The shortfall is based on a projected 6.1 percent decrease in state funding and the district's estimate that it will have 12 fewer students next school year. Last month, Gov. Bill Ritter proposed cutting K-12 education by about $260 million. 

The committee will comprise 13 district representatives elected by colleagues, including teachers from each school and members of various departments. Finance Director Jnl Linsacum also will serve on the committee. 

Rhonda Sweetser, Hayden Valley Elementary School principal, said the purpose of forming the committee was to get a "broad perspective of what the feeling is in the community — to be as transparent as possible" as the district drafts the 2010-11 budget. 

Some board members ex­­pressed concern with district staff members having budget conversations that could affect other personnel, but they ultimately voted unanimously in favor of the process.

"This looks like a good process," Hoza said after the board approved the motion. 

Hayden High School Prin­cipal Troy Zabel said a letter would be sent to all district parents after the Jan. 20 School Board meeting. The letter will go out after the survey is completed with instructions about how to fill it out but before the survey is available. Zabel said the survey likely would be online. 

The first district budget committee meeting is scheduled for Jan. 13. The committee is expected to draft a survey in time for the Jan. 20 board meeting.

In other action

■ The School Board voted unanimously to certify the 2009 mill levy of 26.438 mills for tax collection in 2010. By law, the district must certify the mill levy by Dec. 15.

The mill rate will generate more than $2.7 million. Linsacum said the 2009 mill rate was slightly lower than the 2008 rate, but would generate more revenue because the district’s valuation, $103.6 million, is more than last year. One mill equals $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

■ The board approved the district’s Education Fund Board requests. The district will request nearly $139,000 in gifts this school year. Zabel said they mostly address the district’s technology needs, but the district will request about $25,000 in improvements to the high school auditorium and $24,000 for a middle school para-educator.

Last year, the district requested about $119,000 in gifts, mostly for technology needs, and received more than $115,000.

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