USD 491 approves budget
The Eudora USD 491 Board of Education voted Thursday to approve the budget for the 2008-2009 school year.
The district will keep the promise it made to taxpayers during last years' bond issue campaign by leaving the mill levy flat at 66.350, compared to last year's rate of 66.530.
In April, Rob Schwarz of RSP Associates said population growth had slowed and estimated the district would grow by 33 students in the 2008-2009 school year.
Student growth is one of the main factors in setting the budget because the state funds local districts on a per-pupil basis with a base payment of $4,433 for each pupil.
Initially, the district was going to conservatively budget for just 10 new pupils. But Eudora Superintendent Don Grosdidier told the board Thursday a spike in the number of kindergarten students made it possible to budget for 30 students.
"Our focus at that time (in July) was on the mill levy and holding that steady," Grosdidier said. "As we got a little closer to the school year, we felt confident that we would hit thirty (students)."
Full-time enrollment was at 1,362.7 last year, and the district thinks that number will be at 1,392.7 when the count is made final Sept. 22.
Other variables that could cause cutbacks later in the year include the cost of energy - fuel costs increased by 40 percent - and the assessed valuation of the district could come in lower than planned.
The district has planned for the assessed valuation to be flat and the final valuation will be reported in mid October.
If the estimated enrollment and or valuation numbers aren't reached, the district will make a series of small cuts across the board and also would be able to depend on contingency reserve funds that have been guilt into the budget.
Small cuts to many areas also could be made.
"We like to rotate a new bus on pretty much every year," he said. "Do you have to do that? No, so that's possibly something we could look at and then maybe some minor cuts to each line item across the board. You kind of have to plan for the worst and hope for the best in these situations."
The district will have an operating budget of $11,897,679, compared to last year's budget of $11,415,387.
Kindergarten numbers were up so high that later in the meeting, the board voted to add another kindergarten class this year.
There are 20 students in six of the class section and 19 students in one section. The district prefers a ratio of 1 adult to 17 students.
The cost of adding another class will be about $60,000, with nearly $50,000 going towards the teacher's insurance and salary.
Though no board members argued against the addition of the class, to a person they were wary of it because of the variables that exist in the budget.
However, Belinda Rehmer, Jim Martin and Board President Kenny Massey commented on the importance for both the students and teacher of adding the class and the board unanimously voted to add the section.