FCSD1 Trustees adopt 2014-15 budget with deficit; Former business manager raised concerns

(Lander) – Business Manager Travis Sweeney presented the Fremont County School District #1 Board of Trustees with the 2014-15 budget at its meeting Tuesday evening. The budget has a $235,000 deficit; however, Mr. Sweeney told the Trustees that even if the actual expenditures do exceed revenues by that much this year, the district will have a 13.2% budget reserve.

He noted that the Board’s goal as stated in the Resource Allocation Model of at least 80% of budget going to salaries and benefits is achieved in this budget.

Former Fremont #1 Business Manager Kirk Schmidt expressed several concerns about the budget during the budget hearing. Among the concerns he stated were failure to reduce the number of staff at Lander Valley High School to correspond to the number of students at the school, the continuation of the Dropout Prevention Coordinator position since no other districts have such a position and it will be paid from the general fund now, funding the speech and debate coach position last year for only one student who participated in the program, allowing students to charge for school breakfasts and lunches when they have no money, and concern about some major maintenance items.

In addressing some of Mr. Schmidt’s concerns, Superintendent of Schools Mike Bowman said that 3.25 full-time staff equivalents (FTE) were reduced from LVHS for the 2013-14 school year and that due to an overall increase in enrollment and increases in enrollment in certain departments, 1.5 FTE were being added back. He went on to say that in calculating the number of staff needed for 500 students at LVHS to provide students the 28 credits needed for graduation, there are 29.7 FTE needed. LVHS is staffed at 30.17 FTE for 2014-15, and having the staffing within one-half FTE of the theoretical is very acceptable.

Dr. Bowman said that the Dropout Prevention Coordinator position will be paid from both federal funds and from the general fund. Mr. Sweeney addressed other issues raised by Mr. Schmidt. Trustee Dave Clark told Mr. Schmidt that the Board represents all members of the community and that Board weighs all factors in determining expenditures and that the level of staffing at LVHS reflects what the Board believes to be in the best interest of the community’s students. The Trustees unanimously approved the 2014-15 budget.

–Provided by Superintendent Mike Bowman