$55 million schools budget goes to board

Benny Westcott

Sweet Home School District Budget Committee members unanimously approved a 2021-22 budget of $55,024,931 at their May 10 meeting.

That total is a marked increase from the $45,960,296 that was budgeted last year.

“By almost any measure, we have faced unprecedented challenges during the past year,” said Supt. Tom Yahraes. “We are now tasked with our next significant challenge – helping our students make up for the school loss they’ve endured during the past year.”

Voting in approval of the budget were board members Chanz Keeney, Jenny Daniels, Joe Kennedy, Debra Brown, Jason Van Eck, Dale Keene, Jason Redick, Jim Gourley, and Mike Reynolds, as well as appointed citizens Lori McKinnon and Colton Emmert.

The amount budgeted for the upcoming fiscal year in the General Fund, which covers general operations and activities of the district, is $28,557,393.

Other funds, which include special revenue funds earmarked for special purposes, debt service, capital projects, and trust funds are used to account for assets held by the district in a trustee capacity, total $26,467,538.

Last year, $26,753,000 was allocated in the General Fund, and $19,207,296 was set aside in all other funds.

Yahraes noted that the 2021-22 budget includes grant funding to develop a comprehensive lon- range facilities plan for the district.

“We have made a lot of progress improving our school facilities over the past several years but more needs remain,” Yahraes said.

Yahraes noted some of those.

“The high school’s career technical education buildings and the B and C academic buildings are aging, the swimming pool has a growing number of issues. Also, potential enrollment growth could result in needing additional classroom space, and we would like to make more school security and health/safety improvements,” he said.

Yahraes noted that parents and community members will be invited to participate in developing the long range facilities plan.

He also took stock of some unknowns going into the next fiscal year.

Yahraes said that “one of the key budget uncertainties involves projecting enrollment for the upcoming year and developing a staffing plan.”

He said the 2021-2022 proposed budget makes an assumption that enrollment returns to pre-pandemic levels, but he noted that “we are currently down about 100 students from the same time last year.”

“If our enrollment does not rebound, we will receive significantly less state revenue,” Yahraes said. “For example, an enrollment decrease of 100 students reduces state funding by almost $1,000,000 a year.”

He said that the 2021-22 budget assumes a full return to in-person learning this fall, but he also noted that “we plan to continue expanding and refining virtual programming options for students that prefer this method of instruction.”