The Atlantic Board of Education Monday night continued discussions with regard to the 2014-2015 budget. Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein told KJAN News one of the things he recommended the Board look at is levying the SBRC (School Budget Review Committee) for the Special Education Deficit. The deficit was for how much more was spent for Special Ed programming than what was received, which amounted to around $670,000. Also, $600,000 on the cash reserve and $350,000 on the management levy.
Amstein said Board Secretary/Business Manager Mary Beth Fast is looking at how much the levy might be, and right now it appears it will be around $14.55 or $14.60 per thousand dollars of assessed property valuation. He said they’re also trying to find ways to trim the budget. Amstein said the district’s Unspent Balance has been dropping for a number of years. Even though the district is still in the “Safe range” according to the IASB – Iowa Association of School Boards – Amstein says they “Need to change that trajectory by trimming part of the budget.” Right now they’re looking at cutting $400,000 from the budget for the upcoming year. He says the Board would like to keep that part of the budget at 14-to 15-percent.”
The way the budget shakes out will influence where the levy rate will be for any bond issue the district may consider for planned Capital Improvement/Expansion projects. In other business, the Board discussed the 2014-2015 School Calendar. The focus currently is on an hourly calendar, or 1,080 hours as opposed to the present 180 days. He says an hourly calendar would give the district more flexibility as far as making up snow days, and teacher professional development.
The Atlantic District has had two snow days so far this school year. Those days will be added to the end of the current school year, which will mean classes will dismiss May 23rd instead of May 21st…assuming there are no more make-up days due to the weather.
The School Board, Monday, also approved a $50,000 matching Grant Award Letter of Agreement from the Iowa West Foundation. The funds will be shared by the Atlantic, Exira-EHK, CAM, AHST, Griswold, Harlan and Riverside. Amstein said the grant was possible due to the efforts of the six Superintendents in the region, who worked this past fall on a plan to expand Career Tech Educational opportunities in southwest Iowa.
And, the Board approved an agreement with Cass County Historical Museum for the donation of Native American artifacts in the school’s possession to the museum, with the stipulation that if the Museum should ever permanently close, those artifacts be returned to the district.