Atlantic Board of Education approves FY 2012-2013 Budget


March 14th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Board of Education held a public hearing Tuesday night on the Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Budget, which begins July 1st. Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein said the budget reflects a 2% allowable growth, and will reduce the total tax levy by 60-cents per thousand dollars property valuation. The levy drops from $14.75 per thousand in FY 2011-2012 to $14.15 for FY 2012-2013. Amstein says the administration believes it’s a “responsible budget, and will meet the needs of the students and employees of the district.” Amstein said the certified budget, which was approved Tuesday night by the School Board, is not what the district actually intends to spend. Instead it’s for the maximum it is allowed to spend under standards set by the State. The certified budget amounts to just under $30.95-million. 

During a public hearing on the budget at the start of the school board’s meeting, Atlantic resident Paul Lundquist questioned how the money was being spent, including for certified staff salaries. Amstein said the maximum the district can spend on salaries is $15-million. Lundquist asked if that included insurance and IPERS. Amstein said it doesn’t. He said it represents an increase in additional staff. The teachers union had requested a 6.9% increase in their salary and benefits package, but Amstein said the actual amount of increase is still under negotiation. Lundquist questioned how the School Board justify a substantial increase in teacher salaries without some sort of local standards for teaching and learning, that would make them accountable for their students’ performance. He also questioned how the board could pass a Certified Budget, without having the salary increase figures in place. Amstein says the State requires them to pass a Certified Budget now, but the timeline for settling with teacher’s unions is different. He said the District could easily still be in negotiations through late April. The district is allowed to conduct negotiations through late April or early May before talks go to arbitration, if that becomes necessary.