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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

School board looks at reducing expenses

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Superintendent Fred Maharry will make recommendations to the board at Monday's monthly meeting on how the district can reduce $327,000 in expenses for the next fiscal year.

The Alta district, like 80 percent of the districts in the state, are facing declining enrollments. As the enrollment goes down, so does state aid.

According to Superintendent Maharry, the district will receive $30,686 in new monies next year. That doesn't go far when dealing with a multi-million dollar budget needed to operate the district.

An article in another local newspaper, Maharry said, stated that the district would be receiving much more money. Those figures don't pan out. "It is very unlikely that Alta will receive $226,000 in new money for 2010 as was stated in the (Storm Lake) Times article," the superintendent said.

Maharry said the district has been able to maintain staffing even though enrollments have gone down. "We need to plan for the future and reduce expenditures so we can continue to maintain a district that's financially healthy. We've been addressing this for a couple of years. It's no longer a matter of if but when," Maharry said.

Eighty-five percent of the budget goes to pay staff, Maharry said, pointing out that expenses need to be cut in a way that will make the "least impact on students."

Supplies budgeted were reduced in all areas this school year. The goal is to reduce staff expenses and costs in all other areas.

"This is necessary," Maharry said, "because the only way to protect the district's unspent balance, or spending authority, is to reduce expenses. Some have asked about raising property taxes, an option being considered. Raising taxes will improve the district's cash position but it will not change the unspent balance, which is the bottom line. Therefore, steps must be taken to reduce spending.

"I appreciate that teachers have preliminarily offered to keep the same base salary and administrators have formally agreed to forego salary increases for next year."

The district has received some students through open enrollment, which has "helped" but the expenses continue.

"We are making sacrifices and are carefully planning for the future. We need to look at our priorities. Our top priority is to focus on academics."

Maharry pointed out the positive things going on in the community that shouldn't be overlooked. The city council is address housing needs and the school promotions committee is getting information out to try to bring more families to the community.

The school board meets Monday at 6:30 p.m.

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