Havre Daily News
The Havre Public Schools operations director Ric Floren had good news and bad news for the school board members at a preliminary budget meeting Monday night.
The good news: The elementary district got a 5 percent raise in its annual budget to a total of $6.7 million. In the high school district, the budget was raised by 7 percent for a sum of $4.6 million.
The bad news: Requests from school administrators were $260,000 more than the new funds for the elementary schools and the high school requests exceeded funding by $106,000. The state determines the amount of the general fund budget.
After the high school district requests were presented and discussed, Floren asked the board members what items the school can do without. No members suggested cuts.
All said they are favor of supporting all of the requests in order to be proactive and fund projects and programs while the districts have the funds to do so.
The state sets the districts' funding budgets, but HPS can augment that money with funds, such as oil and gas taxes along with money carried over from last year's budget, such as funds for heating that were not used during the mild winter.
Requests include new tackling dummies for the Havre High School football team, a small elevator at Robins School to help move textbooks and other supplies between floors, textbooks, and money for public relations efforts to inform people about HPS offerings.
School board member Teresa Miller said she thinks the schools should buy the requested items to “be in good shape” in the next few years.
“I think we should just spend the money. It's there and we might not have it next year,” Miller said.
Floren said the increased price of gasoline means greater revenue for the districts.
“This year we are doing outstanding,” he said.
The board members had three options:
Cut $260,000 from the elementary and $106,000 from the high school requests
Use revenue and end-of-the-year money to fund all requests
A combination of the two
The five school board members at the meeting said they want to use revenue made by the schools to fund all of the requests presented at the meeting.
If the board opted to cut requests they would inevitably have to cut job positions in the process because of an about 10 percent rise in workman's compensation costs.
Some of the funds - $140,899 for elementary and $40,726 for high school - already were earmarked for programs like Indian Education for All.
School board member Kathie Newell said the decisions are easy this year compared to others because of the increased revenue and budget.
“If the board was hesitant on a request, we would not purchase it until we got the stamp of approval in August,” Floren said.
He said because the consensus of the board was support for all requests, new equipment and other needs will be worked on as soon as today.
The final budget will be voted on by the board in August.