While much of the district enjoys a well-deserved summer break, the Fort Zumwalt School District Board of Education received a draft version of the $218.7 million budget for the 2011-12 school year, and approved a number of action items affecting the coming school year, including food suppliers and lunch prices.
At the board's meeting Monday, District Superintendent Dr. Bernard DuBray said that with the proposed financial plan, the district had a fighting chance of balancing its budget--a position that was hard to imagine just a few years earlier.
“We started this past year with a deficit of $8.9 million, and we’re going to finish at somewhere around $4 million, so we cut that during the year, which is not an easy task,” DuBray said. “Next year’s budget, we’ve got it in shape, and we’re really in striking distance of being able to balance the budget. Some of it is the number of staff we’ve been able to cut through attrition.”
Chief financial officer Jeffrey Orr agreed staff cuts were driving down the district’s operating budget.
“That is really what’s keeping us in check. We’re doing what we can to cut back where we can,” Orr said. “So I think by the end of the year, I’m really hoping we have a balanced budget. It’s hard to say.” He added that Gov. Jay Nixon has already withheld some state money for transportation and could pull more funding at any time.
The school board will meet to approve the final 2011-12 budget on June 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Director of Student Nutrition Services Paul Becker announced his bid recommendations for fresh food suppliers, as well as a 5-cent increase in school lunch and breakfast prices next year. He said considering an across-the-board increase in food prices last year, the district did well for itself.
“This is basically based on the law from the USDA, the 2010 Healthy Hungry Kids Act, for equity in school lunch prices. They would like to see an average of your lunch price be $2.46,” Becker said. “This year ,they gave us an option of only raising our prices by a nickel. The coming year we might have to increase our prices by a dime.”
During the monthly Missouri School Board Association video report, the board viewed results of the damage done by recent storms to the school district in Joplin, MO.
Districtwide, five schools were totally destroyed, including Joplin High School, in damages upward of $150 million, said Joplin School District Superintendent Dr. C.J. Huff. He and his staff are now faced with the challenge of administrating a summer school and beginning the coming school year on time with severely reduced facilities.
“Obviously, our main focus right now is taking care of our kids and accounting for the status of our kids and our staff. Right now, we have 100 percent of our staff accounted for and 97 percent-plus of our kids, so we’re getting closer all the time,” Huff said.
The full report and interview with Dr. Huff are available online at MSBA’s website.