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Grand Island Board of Education: Trustees consider budget that shrinks, tax levy that increases 1.02%

Sat, Apr 14th 2018 07:00 am
By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
When the Grand Island Board of Education meets April 17, it will consider adoption of a 2018-19 budget that is marginally smaller than the current operating budget and that will increase the tax levy by 1.02 percent.
With President Lisa Pyc excused and Vice President Donna Tomkins in Florida (taking part in the meeting via Skype), Trustee Glenn Bobeck chaired Monday's meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education, which included the third budget presentation by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Graham and Interim Assistant Superintendent for School Finance Dr. Richard Hitzges. Bobeck said the trustees were hopeful to hear about a budget that provided more services to students for a reasonable cost to taxpayers while not exceeding the state mandated budget cap.
Hitzges told the trustees that the proposed 2018-19 budget of $62,469,712 is $169,309 less than the 2017-18 budget the district is operating under, a decline of .27 percent. Hitzges attributed the reduced budget to a $1,537,000 decrease in debt service with the payoff of a bond.
Under the proposed budget, the real property tax levy would increase from $33,126,383 to $33,463,153 (an increase of $336,770). Estimated tax rates would rise from $19.38 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $19.57 per $1,000, or 1.01 percent. According to data provided by the district, a typical house valued at $180,000 would see its tax bill rise $29.25.
 The budget does not assume an increase in the district's assessed valuation.
Health care costs will increase 2 percent, which Hitzges said reflects a move to a self-insurance program in the new employee contracts "to contain costs." He said the increase is "very, very modest" compared to the nearly 7 percent increase in the health market nationally.
The district administration budget proposal calls for replacing 5.6 of the eight teachers who have put in for retirement. Graham said that the administration recommends included not replacing a retiring K-5 elementary school teacher position, as well as an elementary teaching position in grade 6.
Graham showed the trustees enrollment numbers that said the district has 1,206 elementary students and 56 teachers for an average class size of 21.54; next year the enrollment is expected to fall to 1,192 with 55 teachers, for an average of 21.67 students.
Current enrollment in grade 6 stands at 225 students for nine classroom teachers, an average class size of 25 students. The projected enrollment for next year in grade 6 is 209 students. With a recommended eight teachers, the average class size would rise to 26.13 students.
Bobeck concluded the budget presentation by saying, "We will be adopting a budget next week Tuesday, which we have to do by law, amongst other reasons. I think that what we have seen again tonight is consistent with what this district has been fortunate enough to do in the past. ... We've continued to have services to our students be retained, added where we feel they're necessary, keep class sizes to manageable levels that are within both contractual requirements and also our board-set guidelines ... and also added services where both the administration and the board has deemed to be appropriate."
The board will meet May 7 for a public hearing on the budget. The budget vote and school board trustee election is Tuesday, May 15.
•••••
The next regular meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, in the Professional Development Room of Grand Island High School, 1100 Ransom Road.
Board of Education meetings air on Time Warner Cable Channel 22.
Board of Education Trustees
  • President: Lisa Pyc
  • Vice President: Donna Tomkins
  • Trustees: Glenn Bobeck, Susan Marston, Richard D'Agostino, Joy LaMarca and Ashli Dreher
  • Superintendent: Dr. Brian Graham
  • District Clerk: Jude Kuehne
Send comments to the board at [email protected].

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