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School board considers budget cuts

April 22, 2001

School board considers budget cuts



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County School Board will consider about $1.6 million in cuts to its $128 million fiscal 2002 operating budget Tuesday morning.

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The cuts come after Washington County Commissioners decided last week not to fully fund the board's $6.9 million requested budget increase.

The commissioners were pressed to make up a $1.7 million shortfall in the county budget. They achieved that mainly by pulling $1.6 million from the Board of Education's budget.

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The School Board said at a recent meeting it has not ruled out additional budget cuts from the County Commissioners.

"I see $1.6 million as a minimum to cut," said board member Doris Nipps. "There may be more."

The board has not decided what it will cut from its budget. When board members first heard that they may need to make cuts in early April, they said budget reductions could come from personnel costs.

The commissioners suggested the board cut a $679,720 request for the non-public placement of special education students. The board sometimes must place those students, whose needs cannot be met by Washington County Public Schools, in centers outside the county. The board anticipates an increase in costs for non-public placement next year.

The county is the leading funding source for the Board of Education's operating budget, contributing about $70 million for next year. The contribution is about 7.5 percent more than what the county allocated for this year's budget. The county contributed about $63 million to this year's budget of about $118 million.

The Board of Education's budget includes:

--$5.3 million in salary increases for all staff

--$2.3 million in proposed health insurance rate increases

--$896,000 for 16 replacement school buses

--$350,000 in utility cost increases

--$181,000 for a 1 percent general inflationary increase

--$138,000 for four additional contract school buses in Hancock

--$50,000 to bring the total teachers tuition reimbursement to $250,000

--$35,000 for new teacher signing bonuses

--$7,971 for rate increases for athletic officials

The budget meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the board's central office on Commonwealth Avenue.

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