School board OKs 2020-21 budget

The Payette School District Board of Trustees, is pictured during its June 8 meeting. The meeting was made possible by adding suspended plexiglass panels between their seats, limiting in-person participation by the public and streaming the meeting on Zoom.

PAYETTE 

At its June 8 regular meeting, the Payette School District Board of Trustees reviewed for approval the details of the proposed budgets for the 2020-21 school year. The meeting, held in the Galleon Room of the Payette Alternative High School campus, was made possible by adding suspended plexiglass panels between Trustees’ seats, limiting in-person attendance by the public and continuing to offer the meeting to view on Zoom, to encourage social distancing.

Expenditures across the maintenance and operations budget are expected to total $9,736 million, while all others are expected to add up to $4.736 million, for a total of $14.473 million.

The 2020-21 proposed budget accounts for a reduction in state funds, as well as soft funds of about $800,000, including monies from the current voter-approved supplemental levy and those received through the CARES Act in light of novel coronavirus COVID-19. District officials anticipate using soft funds this year to help offset the state funding reduction to balance the budget.

Board Clerk Barbara Choate reviewed the highlights of the proposed budget, as reviewed by the district’s finance committee:

“It’s based on sixty-nine funding units, which is down from seventy-three from the (2019-2020) budget year; The budget reflects the reduction of three certificated staff positions and those reductions occurred through attrition,” Choate said. “The budget reflects freezing certified staff on the (2019-2020) salary schedule ladder …”

Choate also noted the budget reflects no increase in classified staff pay or benefits, and accounts for a reduction in payments to Social Security and retirement benefits by 1.16% for an unknown amount of time due to PERS placing a holiday on the District’s payments for sick leave benefits, as well as a cost increase of $20,000 to worker’s compensation insurance premiums over the previous year.

“A portion of that is due to the way that the Idaho State Insurance Fund is calculating that premium; losses have been so great that they had to reorganize their calculation process,” said Choate, noting that the district no longer gets a modified rate but is not significantly affected by the change.

The budget also factors in fee increases put in place by the Snake River Valley Conference for events held during the 2020-21 school year; General admission to events is increasing from $5 to $6 for adults, and from $3 to $4 for students and senior citizens.

“That was an SRV increase that we don’t really have a lot of say in, but it does require publishing,” noted Choate.

Trustee Andy Kirkendall pointed out that with the state’s announcement of a 5% cut to school funding, email traffic to the district about the budget was pretty high.

“The biggest call was to do it without reduction of staff,” Kirkendall said. “One of the things that was mentioned there is we were able to achieve that, there was some attrition that helped along with that, but we did not put ourselves in a situation where we would have to look at any other reduction in force.”

According to Choate, the district’s accountant recommended having three months of reserve on hand, calculated at $1.4 million, while the district actually has $312,000 on hand.

Chairman Adam Rynearson pointed out that the district still has work to do to improve its financial position.

Trustee Andy Kirkendall moved to adopt the budget, and Trustee Candita Strong seconded. The vote to approve the budget was unanimous.

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