The Atlantic School Board held a special meeting Wednesday evening at the high school and after much discussion, voted to approve a $2.2-million budget amendment for the 2013-2014 school year. The action came after the Board held a public hearing, during which there were no comments. Business Manager Mary Beth Fast explained there are four areas where a budget could be exceeded that would require a budget amendment. They include Construction, Support Services, Non-instructional programs and Total “Other” expenditures.
Atlantic School Board acts on Budget Amendment. (Ric Hanson/photo)
She said if a district exceeds expenses in any one of those areas, the budget should be amended. Fast said nearly 50-percent of Iowa’s school districts amend their budget at some point in time, some more than once. It is especially common she said, when a construction project is underway or was recently completed. The bulk of the Atlantic School District’s budget amendment comes in the area of Support Services.
Mary Beth said the biggest expenses came as the result of the installation wireless system at the Middle School, the Access Control System, Auditorium repairs/lights and sound, and the purchase of two new buses. Those items total around $303-thousand.
Board member Rod Hartwig was concerned about the 42-percent adjustment in the budget and wanted to know where the other $1.9-million is coming from. Fast says she’s “Hoping that’ll more than cover” what the district will need, but she “Would rather err on the side of certifying too much or amending too much, than to cut it close and have that area be exceeded.” She went on to describe other expenses, much of which were computer-related.
The $2.2-million she said, would cover any additional expenses (bills) that arrive before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st. Board President Kristy Pellett said she too, was concerned with the large amendment. She said if they failed to sufficiently plan for it 18-months ago, they need to make sure the plan for what they can spend, in the future.
Districts have until May 31st to amend their budget and submit it to their county auditor, or as late as June 30th, but if there was a protest from members of the community, there wouldn’t be enough time for the Iowa State Appeals Board to review render a decision, therefore the amendment would be void. Mary Beth Fast answered the question of “Why do you wait so long to amend your budget?,” by saying districts are sometimes faced with unexpected expenditures, such as when the purchase of a bus is billed in one fiscal year instead of another, the timing of construction project and payments, curriculum materials being delivered before the end of the current budget year, and damages caused by severe weather that are not immediately reimbursed by insurance.