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Lindbergh budget for coming school year cuts 11 teaching posts, dips into reserves


June 22, 2005 - The Lindbergh Board of Education last week approved a 2005-2006 budget that will cut 11 full-time teaching positions and will include a 1 percent across-the-board cut in supply budgets.

The board unanimously approved the budget, which estimates operating expenditures of $44,010,091 and projected operating revenue of $43,002,031. The board also approved the use of $680,000 of reserves to help compensate for the difference. Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane said that revenues still are short an estimated $300,000.

"It's a working budget," Lanane told the Call. "We think it will balance because we've never spent 100 percent of our budget. And when you look at a budget ... it's half a percent (of the budget). And if it doesn't, then the board will have to authorize the use of (additional) reserves."

He said this was not an easy budget to bring together.

"We are at a point where we have worked through at least three budget sessions and at least a Saturday session," Lanane said at the meeting. "It has been a long and arduous journey on this, but we arrive at a point tonight to recommend a budget."

The budget includes $1.45 million in in-creased expenditures, including $1,172,000 in salary and benefit increases that were part of the third consecutive year of a third year contract. Individual teacher salary in-creases range from 1.59 percent to 4.74 percent, depending on the educational level and years of experience of the teacher. In addition, $240,000 was allocated to meet federal No Child Left Behind requirements.

"Expenditures have only increased 1.3 percent from the revised current budget, and within that 1.3 percent we were able to accomplish some pretty spectacular things in a sense," Lanane told board members June 14.

To compensate for the increased expenditures, the board increased fees and make several cuts. The equivalent of 11 full-time teaching positions will be cut to save $484,000, along with Latin and Japanese language classes at the high school and keyboarding classes at the middle school.

The district also has cut an assistant su-perintendent position, which will save $85,000. Vicki Oldani, assistant superintendent of special services, resigned to take a job in Florissant and her responsibilities will be split between two people in-stead of hiring a replacement.

The board cut $20,000 in library collections and has increased fees to bring in more revenue, including a 5 percent in-crease in field and building rates for the second consecutive year. Lanane has said he estimates $42,000 in revenue from the fees.

For the first time, sports fans will be charged $3 for admission into football and boys and girls basketball games.

Lindbergh students will not be charged if they have a valid student identification with them, so only adults and visiting students will be charged the fee.

Senior citizens and employees will be given passes for games, except for Mis-souri State High School Activities Associ-ation events. Admission will generate $20,000 annually.

School lunches also will cost more this year. Breakfast still will be free, but milk will cost a nickel more at 45 cents, lunch will cost 10 cents more for children at the elementary schools at $1.85 and for adults at $2.35. Secondary school lunch costs will remain the same at $2.

Taxpayers also will see a change to their own budgets. Right now the residential tax rate is $2.70, which is five cents below the state minimum. Because the state allows school districts to increase tax rates without voter approval if they're below that minimum, the board could raise the tax rate to $2.75. Lanane said revenue from that residential reassessment, an estimated $1.6 million, is included in the budget.

"It's included in the budget that was adopted because it was assumed that that would happen," Lanane said. "The reassess-ment has been assumed in this budget."

Businesses have a separate tax rate and will not be affected.

The board unanimously opposed a mo-tion to charge a $30 student athletic participation fee, which was voted on separately from the budget at the board's request. The fee would have generated an estimated $12,000.

"I had this one pulled because I think that we as a board want to see more children have more opportunities available to them, and I think this will restrict — from a family point — some of them from not participating in sports ...," board member Bob Foerstel said during the meeting.

Vice President Kenneth Fey also spoke against the fee because it singled out athletes and would only bring $12,000 in revenues in a $44 million budget.

"We have all spoken many times about extracurricular activities and how important they are and do we want to put a—even though it's a small price—do we want to put a price on it," Fey said.

Secretary Vic Lenz reminded board members that the budget called for cutting several teaching positions, which increases class sizes.

"If we are trying to look at everything, every little piece, and this is one little piece, that if you put that together with the admission piece it would equal one teacher's salary and keep another teacher in the classroom and keep that class size low," Lenz said.

Lindbergh also has lost a significant amount of money from phasing out of Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corp. program, which allows city residents to attend county schools.

"The board made the decision several years ago—the program is slated to go out in '08 or '09 — so rather than go out to the end and then say: 'Oh, we're ending the program,' we're trying to faze it out ... anyone who is in the program, as long as the money doesn't get too terribly low, it allows them to finish.

Lanane said Lindbergh is facing both a reduction in students and a reduction in tuition payments from the state for each student. Lindbergh received $3.5 million from the VICC program, but this budget projects receiving an estimated $2.5 million.

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