Following massive budget cuts across the board at both the high school and the elementary and middle school, the Bigfork board of trustees approved the district’s final budget for the 2011-2012 school year at its Aug. 16 meeting.
The elementary and middle school budget came in at $4,276,463.29, an increase of $11,462 compared to the preliminary budget presented at the board’s July meeting. The high school budget totaled $2,973,086.81, an increase of $16,801.27 from the preliminary budget.
According to district business manager Eda Taylor, the difference between preliminary budget numbers and final budget numbers is largely the result of higher-than-anticipated contributions from the state. Those funding sources include the State Combined Block Grant, which goes toward the district’s flex fund.
That fund is used to pay for a variety of expenses that are not covered by the general fund, including supplies and maintenance. This year, the district plans to use money from the flex fund to upgrade its in-building security system.
Part of the difference between the preliminary and final budget numbers at the elementary and middle school is due to the negative end-of-year balance from last year, which had to be added into this year’s budget.
A portion of that deficit was due to the district’s relatively high amount of taxes receivable — taxes that were levied for but never paid.
“After the recession hit (in 2008), we saw a major change in taxes receivable,” Taylor said. “The first year that the recession hit us, there was a major increase in the taxes receivable, and it has gone up every year since then.”
The amount of taxes receivable at the elementary school has increased nearly threefold since the 2007-2008 school year. At the high school, that figure has more than doubled over the same time period.
The total amount of taxes receivable for this year came in at just over $232,000 at the elementary school and almost $139,000 at the high school.
“There are substantial dollar amounts there,” Taylor said.
Taylor noted that there has also been a steady increase in the amount of protested taxes over the last few years.
In addition to receiving less tax money, the district has received less money from the state in recent years due to declining enrollment. The Average Number Belonging (ANB) fell by seven at the elementary school and 27 at the high school this year.
To balance this year’s budget, the district was forced to reduce or eliminate several staff positions in addition to cutting funding for activities, technology and supplies.
Those cuts saved the district $372,128 at the high school and $66,393.74 at the elementary and middle school compared to last year’s budgets.
Also during the Aug. 16 meeting, the board approved the hiring of Stormy Taylor as an eighth-grade volleyball assistant coach, Susan Nelson and Nichole Danz as high school volleyball assistant coaches, and Chad Oster and Derek Ford as middle school football coaches. Treena Mitts, who recently resigned from her position as a high school assistant volleyball coach for scheduling purposes, was hired as a seventh-grade volleyball coach.
Several extracurricular activity volunteers were also approved by the board, including Cy Murer and Chad Anderson as assistant football coaches and Kyle Koslosky as an assistant boys soccer coach.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 in the elementary school cafeteria.