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Budget goes up, taxes stable

District 833 officials recently approved a $132.4 million budget for 2006-07, with no new school taxes to be levied.

The new budget climbed 7.44 percent over that of 2005-06, partially due to expected rises in operating expenses, and the decrease in class sizes by an additional one-half student.

The average elementary school class will have 28 students. At the junior high schools, classes will be comprised of 30 students, with 30 students at Park High School and 31 students at Woodbury High School.

The board also approved $2 million in new programs, most of which are directly related to education. The money is coming from a $11.4 million fund balance, bringing the balance down to an expected $9.2 million by the end of the fiscal year in June.

"It is a middle of the road budget increase," said District Superintendent Tom Nelson.

Don't look for the money to help pay for a new high school, building repairs, technology or new air circulation equipment, however. The money must be spent on education, according to state law.

Other budget expenses include committing $1.1 million for technology including $600,000 for surveillance cameras in elementary schools.

While some districts have fallen behind in payments to the fund covering teacher severance and retirement health insurance, District 833 is in a better position than most, according to auditors.

Board members agreed to put $5 million, over two years, into the fund. The remaining $6 million deficit will be wiped out with further district contributions and interest from investments.

The board wanted to add more buses to reduce the walking distance for secondary schools to one mile, as was the case before the budget-slashing era, but it will have to wait until the next budget process.

There is not enough time to implement the changes for this year, according to Transportation Director Keith Paulson.

Paulson was asked to return next year with a transportation plan that includes lowering walking distances, Spanish Immersion buses and elementary school busing to classes for gifted students.

Budget additions

Here is a breakdown of how money will be spent.

n Increase elementary school media coordinators from .2 hours to half-time, $25,000

n Increase from .1 to half time vocal-instrumental elementary school music coordinator, $37,545

n Provide after-school busing for all elementary school sites two times a week, $175,000

n Create literacy coaches at each secondary school to support and train staff members, $208,000

n Add licensed social workers at elementary schools with the number of hours based on enrollment $243,600

n Add four hours of time the week before school for all paraprofessionals, $16,256

n Add 1.5 licensed and one full-time paraprofessional for Early Childhood Special Education classes, $26,000

n Add half-time Early Childhood Special Education social worker to help families assess community resources for high-needs kindergarteners, $99,000

n Add a half-time psychologist for special education students, $26,000

n Provide high schools with support for students who have not passed reading tests, $26,000

n Allocate $5 per pupil for possible advanced-placement classes, and college courses taught in high schools, for K-12, $94,715

n Create a kindergarten- to 12th-grade orchestra start-up program, $326,798

n Special classes for gifted and talented elementary school students, $118,000

n Add a full-time safety and emergency planning manager to lead security and emergency preparedness program, $86,000

n Add two full-time custodians to substitute during absences, vacations, job openings and time off for injuries, $102,176

n Place cap on total fees for athletics and activities at $400 for each family with students in ninth to 12th grades, $10,000

n Hire a consultant to train school site teams on decision making, $25,000

n Staff development for teachers mentoring and coaching new teachers, $99,000

n Additional payroll specialist, $44,260

n Set aside funds for transitional planning, $40,835

n Add two paraprofessionals to assist expanding high-needs program, $42,000

n Increase budget for printing student-discipline policies, $10,300

n Add a full-time webmaster to design and monitor all district Web pages, $61,770

n Add a half-time cable television videographer, $19,870

n Total, $2 million

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600