District 55 trustees discuss budget

BLACKFOOT — The Blackfoot School District is facing $2.072 million in funding cuts for the 2011-2012 school year. At the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night several ideas were presented as potential ways to shrink the budget.
Assistant Superintendent Chad Struhs presented information from the finance committee on budget reductions and ways the district can balance the budget.
"We're looking at a $2 million deficit in order to operate," Struhs said.
The board ratified the negotiated agreement between the Blackfoot Education Association and School District 55 during the meeting. In that agreement, salaries were frozen and it was agreed that the district would pay for insurance cost increases for employees, Superintendent Scott Crane said.
The finance committee recommends using funds reserved from the federal education jobs bill passed last year, a cost of $389,000.
The district expects to save $1.22 million due to retirements, attrition and program reductions. The committee also recommends eliminating an administrative position, the vocational director and cutting extracurricular activities by $171,824.
Recommendations also include reducing funding for summer building projects, vehicle maintenance and auditorium equipment and supplies.
Struhs also said the district is working with the transportation companies on ways to save money, an anticipated reduction of $117,650.
Board Chairman J.D. Tolman said he was pleased to know that teacher salaries can be maintained with the reductions the district is facing.
"It looks like we're cutting, we're going to make it," Tolman said. "I think our teachers are our most valuable asset."
The board of trustees will further discuss the proposed budget cuts at its June meeting.
Also at the meeting the trustees passed revisions to Board Policy 448 regarding employment contracts with certificated employees to align the policy with new state laws. Those who have renewable contracts with the district will be grandfathered in and will retain due process rights. All others will be placed on a one-year, Category A contract that will be subject to review each year. Any new certificated employees in the district will be placed on a Category A contract.