Budget adds principal, 4 percent in expenses

Hanson says administration would be cut in tough times

The Mancos school board approved a budget 2014-15 budget in June that factors in more building projects and an additional principal.

The budget passed on a vote of 4-1. Beverly Scott, formerly Beverly Humiston voted against the budget and voiced concern during the meeting that it was top-heavy after a principal for the middle and high schools was hired.

Previously, Superintendent Brian Hanson was the principal for the middle and high schools. Adam Priestley, formerly a teacher, was approved to take the position at the June 30 board meeting. The district also retained a dean of students to manage athletics and disciplinary issues and replaced the elementary school principal. Cathy Epps was also approved to replace Mike Lister at the meeting. Lister submitted a letter of resignation to the board at the end of the school year stating he was leaving for personal reasons.

Hanson said the positions were needed and the district didn't make a sacrifice to hire the additional administrator.

"If times get tough, they will be the first to go. I'm not concerned that we are top-heavy," he said.

The board approved a $5.86 million budget this year that included an overall 4 percent increase in expenses, up to $4.4 million from $4.2 million but an increase in funding from the state helped cover improvements to the building and the rising price of benefits for staff.

Total revenues increased by 5.8 percent, up to $4.4 million from about $4.1 million a last year. The boost came from the state and mostly flowed into the general fund, which helped to make up for a decline in property tax revenue from falling property values.

The state contribution to the general fund was $2.6 million, up from $2.3 million in 2013-14, or about 12 percent. The general fund revenue from local property taxes declined about 4 percent, from about $1.3 million to about $1.25 million. This equated to a per student funding to increase from $7,984.41 to $8,448.20 or about 5.8 percent.

In addition, the number of students at Mancos schools is also projected to increase slightly, from 374 to 384. At the board meeting, Hanson said the district had budgeted for a conservative student population. If more students enroll before October, the district would receive additional funding from the state.

Capital spending

Greater funding allowed the school to budget several building project. The school will be able to add projectors estimated to cost $15,400, which will include the electrical work needed to install them. The school also plans to spend $10,000 on a new sound system and $6,500 on convection ovens.

The school also plans to invest in converting space into a new wrestling room, estimated to cost $3,000. Other improvements include refinishing gym floors and new classroom technology.

All the capital improvements are expected to cost $73,000. Last year, the school set aside about $73,000, including reserves, which funded a new roof on the performance center.

Staff costs

Instructional staff salaries for teachers, teacher aides, substitutes, preschool staff and coaches declined from about $1.45 million to about $1.39 million, a decline of 4 percent. Part of the decline came from no longer paying stipends for lead teachers and new hires. The district also is no longer paying for a district liaison, which was factored into instructional spending last year.

The cost of benefits for instructional staff including the preschool increased from about $493,000 to about $512,000, or 4 percent. Part of the increase is a required increase in teachers' retirement and an expected increase in the cost of medical, dental and vision insurance.

The salaries for the administration increased from about $398,000 to about $450,000 an increase of about 13 percent. This included costs for an additional principal and scheduled salary increases.

Benefit expenses for administration also increased from about $136,000 to $151,000 or about 11 percent.

All eligible staff members would receive their scheduled salary increase, according to the budget. Under these "step" increases, each certified teacher receives an increase of $525 a year - about $244 less than their peers in Cortez receive. Teachers can also earn salary increases for increased education. Classified staff members such as kitchen staff, custodians, bus drivers and teachers receive an increase of 16 cents an hour each area.

Services and savings

Support services including nurses, tutors, food services, buses, maintenance and school technology is budgeted to cost the district $1.27 million, up from $1.19 million an increase of about 6 percent. Each category saw a small increase. The district also budgeted about $251,000 for classroom curriculum and supplies and college tuition for high school students, which is an increase of about $28,000, or 12 percent over last year.

Hanson told the board that the budget factored in some cushion, and the budget reflects reserves in every category. The district expects the reserves to stay about $1.4 million, with no significant change compared with last year.