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July 08, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, July 08, 2005

Tight school budget until Slater closes Tight school budget until Slater closes (July 08, 2005)

MV-Whisman district had planned for one less campus

By Katie Vaughn

The Mountain View-Whisman School District board took time during its last meeting of the year to honor its retirees and pass the 2005-06 budget.

Board members shared tears and well-wishes with retiring Superintendent Eleanor Yick and Assistant Superintendent Modrite Archibeque. Many spoke of the difficulties of the past year, particularly the controversial decision to close Slater Elementary in June 2006.

Balancing next year's budget was difficult, as the district had counted on rental income from closing Slater, a move that the board ultimately decided must wait another year.

"Without having revenue from a closed school, the budget is very tight this year," said Rebecca Wright, the district's chief financial officer. "The budget was one of the key reasons for closing the school."

The 2005-06 budget, which Wright presented to the board at its June 30 meeting, allows for $32.2 million in total expenditures, while relying on $32.8 million in revenues. Wright said the numbers narrowly allow for the 3 percent reserve the state requires a district of Mountain View-Whisman's size to allot in its budget. Yet the expenditure amount is a slight 4.3 percent decrease from what the district spent in the last school year.

With 82 percent of the budget devoted to personnel, the board has few options to conserve. The cost of providing for special-needs students has risen in the past decade, and Wright expects the trend to continue.

Due to a handful of students graduating or leaving the district, costs in the coming year are down from the last. But Wright considers this an anomaly, as opposed to a trend.

If the costs of offering special education or employing personnel -- or some other unknown -- rise in the following year, Wright said, the district will be able to rely on the additional revenue generated from leasing the Slater campus.

The new budget does not take into account issues raised in the organizational and efficiency study the district released in May. Wright said new Superintendent Maurice Ghysels will review those findings after he takes office on July 25.

E-mail Katie Vaughn at [email protected]

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