Latest school budget boosts technology spending

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

The School District 55 Budget Committee approved the proposed 2008-09 budget on April 28.

The total school budget is $31.5 million, up from $29.1 million in 2007-08, with the general fund at $20.4 million, up from $19 million.

The budget next moves to the School Board, which will hold a public hearing and adopt the budget prior to June 30.

The budget approved last week included some adjustments from the initial proposal, reducing the speech pathology budget from $215,000 to $143,000 and cutting two line items to $0, a reduction of $44,000.

The changes also increased technology spending from $17,500 to $52,500 to install 10-megabit Internet connectivity at the elementary schools. CenturyTel provided an estimate of $35,000 for the installation.

Supt. Larry Horton answered a number of questions from committee members about the proposed budget prior to approval.

Among them, he identified schools that were on the painting schedule this summer, including the high school wood shop, band room and custodial area; the main building at the Junior High; Foster; Oak Heights; Crawfordsville; Holley; and Hawthorne.

The budget includes $100,000 for long-term maintenance, Horton said. Historically, that has ranged from $15,000 in 2003-04 to as high as $400,000 in 2005-06.

Based on rising food costs, the district is estimating a $45,000 shortfall in food services in 2008-09, Horton said, so the budget includes a $45,000 transfer to food services, which has been financially self-reliant in the past.

According to a recent Center for American Progress report, the national school lunch program has not kept pace with rising costs, Horton said. Schools receive $2.47 per meal to serve free lunches to children from the poorest families, about a 3 percent increase from the past year, while bread prices rose 12 percent and milk about 17 percent.