Baker schools face ‘tight’ budget in 2013-14

The Baker School System’s 2013-14 budget will be “tight,” business manager Sidney Stewart said Tuesday.

Stewart, who presented the projected $17.1 million budget during a School Board work session, told members the district should finish the year with a balanced budget, provided her projections are correct.

In 2012-13, the district ended the year with a $620,000 surplus.

The new budget must be approved by Sept. 15 and submitted to the state superintendent by Sept. 30.

Tax revenue and Minimum Foundation Program funds are expected to stay largely the same as 2012-13, at $4.7 million and $11.3 million respectively, Stewart said.

In response to a question from board member Troy Watson, Stewart acknowledged if the school system loses students to charter schools or other districts during the year, MFP funds could decrease.

For each student who leaves, the system loses $3,900 in state funding and the amount is higher if the student has special needs.

She advised the board to meet in January or February and re-evaluate the budget based on where enrollment numbers stand at that time.

New expenses in the budget for 2013-14 include $7 million for repairs to school buildings. Major renovations of the football stadium and McConnell Auditorium at Baker High are planned.

Throughout the campus, windows and exterior doors are going to be replaced, drainage improved, interior lighting and acoustical tiles upgraded, pavement and roofing repaired and a security and intercom system installed.

Some teachers and support staff will receive salary supplements due to $188,000 appropriated to the school system by the Legislature.

Half of the money must be used for instructor pay, Stewart said.

Teachers will receive $1,000 and teacher’s aides $500 in one-time money, however, the board will decide later in the year which instructors will get the supplement, Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said.

The School Board also will search for new office space in the upcoming year. The board’s lease on the office space in the Whitney Bank Building on Ray Weiland Drive ends March 31.

The board has discussed purchasing the former All-Star Chevrolet building at Groom and Pettit roads for its new offices.

At the work session, board member Dana Carpenter said that school district attorneys were negotiating with the owner of the property.

“It’s going to take a while,” he said.