R-2 board cuts 2020-21 fiscal budget by $300,000

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 7/1/20

BELLE — The Maries County R-2 Board of Education on June 25 approved a budget that is “fiscally conservative” due to withholdings from the state and Department of Elementary and …

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R-2 board cuts 2020-21 fiscal budget by $300,000

Posted

BELLE — The Maries County R-2 Board of Education on June 25 approved a budget that is “fiscally conservative” due to withholdings from the state and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“We have the 2020-21 budget to approve tonight,” said Superintendent Dr. Lenice Basham. “Our economic conditions continue to be unsettled. The budget is a very conservative approach to how I think we should go this year. We should continue to monitor everything.”

A conservative budget cut included the closure of Kids Club, reduction to classroom supplies, elimination of equipment purchases, reduction to professional development, elimination of tuition reimbursement for the 2020-21 school year, and reduction in capital budgets such as site improvements and building modifications.

A $300,000 revenue withholding from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) required the same reduction in expenditures to make sure the budget was balanced as required by statute.

Director Amy Kiso said it looked tight, but possible.

“It looks like we increased our reserve a little bit,” Basham said. “I know that seems impossible, and all I can tell you is I would have been super excited to see what it would have been had I gotten our normal revenue. I think we would have had a really good year and I was feeling really good about it until COVID hit.”

Basham said she will probably have a better projection of normal in another two years.

“People are going to start paying their taxes in July and that will impact too,” Basham said. “I felt like even though it was not a great year from state funding, I felt like we had done a really good job of increasing the reserves and being conservative with our spending.”

Basham told the board she was proud of them and Butler told her they were proud of her.

They approved the budget with a 7-0 vote.

The school resource officer (SRO) will add another item to the fiscal budget next year — hopefully as a credit. The Maries County Sheriff’s Department and Maries R-2 School District will share the cost of the last few months of school for the school resource officer.

“We are going to split the cost of the closure and we are going to take those off the contract for next year,” Basham said. “We are going to pay the contract in full and take half of the (closure amount) that was paid off of the 2020-21 school year.”

Board President Joey Butler II asked if the district could expect the same service at the discounted rate and Basham said she thought they would receive better service.

“After Sheriff Heitman and I visited, I think last year we were under the impression that they could only work so many hours so we limited asking the SRO to do things like parent-teacher conferences,” she said. “Sheriff Heitman indicated that they could work more than 40 hours a week. He is our employee and he will do what we ask him to. He will be at parent-teacher conferences and events.”

Kiso asked if the new SRO officer is certified for the job. Basham said he has his peace officer’s license and is attending classes for SRO officers specifically.

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