St. Joseph school board eyes promising 2015-16 budget

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH – With the school year winding down, the St. Joseph school board is looking ahead to positive numbers for next year’s budget due to a number of teachers who are retiring.

The board scheduled a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. next Monday in the North Lincoln Administration building to consider adopting the district’s 2015-16 proposed budget and millage rates.

Superintendent Ann Cardon offered an outline of what to expect.

The proposed budget, which is less than $25 million, is expected to break even. Cardon said it would be the first time in five years the school district did not run a deficit.

“We have nine people retiring this year and we are replacing all of them,” Cardon said. “There is a big savings there because when someone retires at the top of the scale, we can hire someone that will not make as much to give us a savings.”

If approved, the budget would take effect July 1 – the start of the district’s fiscal year. However, it would not receive its new state aid until Oct.1 because it is not on the same fiscal cycle as the state.

Instead, the district would come back in the fall or winter and amend the budget once it has all the figures.

Kathy Hamilton, the district’s chief financial officer, explained some of the finer details of the budget to trustees.

“Our student count is flat, our state funding looks like it is going to be flat, so if our expenses remain the same we will have a balanced budget,” she said. “St. Joe has been very lucky. Its student population has been stable and growing, while the state’s overall student enrollment is declining.”

Other discussion items

At its next board meeting, trustees will look at approving a new course for assisted credit recovery. The course would involve peer-to-peer tutoring for students who fall behind in school credits.

At the same board meeting, Cardon will recommend that next year’s food prices for high school students be increased by 5 cents per meal. Middle and elementary students would pay the same.

The study session was packed at the beginning, as members of the community were there to commemorate the nine retiring teachers. The new upcoming student senate was also introduced during the session.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@thehp.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on June 2, 2015)

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