Debated since January, the 2012-2013 Warren County School District budget is now on the books.
The proposal was unanimously approved in a special meeting of the school district's board of directors on Thursday evening at the Warren County Career Center.
Even though it is over a million dollars below last year's $66,492,484 budget, the $65,337,149 spending plan won't effect educational programs offered in the district, according to Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel.
"One of the most important things to say (is that) we do feel we can provide exceptional programming in our schools to our kids," he said, indicating that all classes for the fall appear to be staffed appropriately.
Board Vice President Donna Zariczny said, "I would like to thank administration. I really like the description in the beginning (of the budget). That is something the community can read and understand."
The document, available at wcsdpa.org, opens with an easy-to-read four-page summary of some of the items that were included in the budget.
The road to a balanced budget has been rocky.
Approximately 40 teachers and 20 support staff were furloughed at the conclusion of last school year in June and all of the bargaining units that represent district employees opted to take some form of a concession to provide the district additional financial relief.
"The budget includes the benefits realized by the agreements reached with the Administrative Support Employees, the WCEA Professional Staff, the WCESPA Support Staff, and the Act 93 Certificated and Non-Certificated Administrators," the summary says. "These concessions allowed the District to retain staff in key positions to better support education for our students."
Among other cuts, the 2012-2013 budget eliminates the purchase of new textbooks, implements a reduction in capital project funding, includes a 25 percent cut in building supply budgets, a reduction in administrative staff, a reduction in telephone costs as well as a cut in bus contractor fees.
But the news isn't all bad.
Funding for full-day kindergarten is in the budget as well as "bringback" funding that will allow 10 or 11 employees to be brought back to work. Special education funding, gifted education funding and funding for the programs at the Warren County Career Center were also preserved. Dollars allocated for athletics stayed at last year's level, but were allocated to the individual district buildings in a different manner.
The budget includes a 2.5 percent tax millage increase, the maximum allowed by the state tax index, as well as an additional .7818 of one mill as a result of the referendum exception that the district received to help offset increasing retirement costs.
At over $38 million, the largest portion of the anticipated revenue comes from the state.
Hufnagel thanked the board for a unanimous vote on his first budget as superintendent. Board member John Grant said that he couldn't remember a unanimous budget vote in any other year.
In other action Thursday, the board also approved Aramark as the food service provider for the upcoming school year. When put out for bid, Aramark provided the proposal that was most economically beneficial for the district.
The budget was approved amid a 50-minute flurry of motions that will allow the district's board of directors to take July off. The monthly meeting on July 16 will not be held.