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April 16, 2003

Business Services Director Bryan Ruud presented the 2003-04 Hamilton School District’s budget that totaled $36.5 million and includes a 3.8 percent increase in expenses and 4.37 percent increase in the mil rate. The proposed mil rate is expected to go from $11.04 to $11.52 per $1,000 of property value.

The mil rate includes additional debt from referendum projects that were approved by voters in November 2002. The budget assumes district enrollment will increase by 39 students, property value will increase by 5 percent and Governor Jim Doyle’s state budget proposal will be approved. Ruud noted that property values have typically increased by 7 or 8 percent, and the mil rate will drop if values are higher than the 5 percent projected.

The budget includes staff cuts, administration and school budget reductions and no additional capital improvement spending over last year’s budget. Ruud cautioned that Governor Doyle’s budget proposal is a “best case scenario” for the district and other state budget proposals could significantly reduce revenue and freeze spending, causing the district to make more substantial cuts.

The School Board will approve a final budget in May to present to citizens at the June 16 Annual Meeting.

Preliminary staffing plan discussed

The number of full-time equivalency (FTE) teaching positions in 2003-04 will drop by seven if student projections are accurate and the governor’s budget proposal is accepted. Human Resources Assistant Superintendent Dean Schultz reported that even though it appears that enrollment will increase throughout the district, there will be fewer staff members at each level. The district must cut $551, 614 because of inflationary increases, negotiated salary-and-benefit expenses and expected property-casualty insurance hikes.

Among the cuts are teaching positions. The high school will have 2.5 fewer positions for a total of 73.02 FTEs, the middle school will be down one position at 67.18 FTEs, and the number of elementary school teachers will drop 3.5 positions to be 136.78 FTEs.

While the staff reductions will not cause class size averages to exceed the maximum established by School Board policy, they will increase at all levels. Elementary class sizes will increase slightly at grades 4 and 5, and there will be a reduction of specials (physical education, art music and writing-technology). At the middle school, allied arts will have larger sections. High school class size averages will increase. Schultz recommended that the School Board include two contingency positions in the staffing plan for unanticipated enrollments. Should more cuts be necessary, School Board members will see another staffing plan.

Spectrum Program document approved

Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman, Ph.D., presented information about changes in Spectrum, the district’s gifted and talented program. Spectrum’s goals are to provide programming for students with strong academic abilities, leadership skills or creative talents. The Spectrum document had last been updated six years ago. Changes include:

  • addition of programming including middle school enrichment courses and high school honors program;
  • refined and changed forms; and
  • better procedures for identifying students for the program.

Personnel matters approved

In personnel matters, the School Board:
approved the resignation of Woodside art teacher Craig Fredrich who is taking a full-time position in another district.