Board gets budget numbers

Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

The New Prague Area School Board got its first look at the proposed 2008-09 budget at its meeting Monday, April 28.

Finance Director Dan Pyan presented budget figures to the board.

The proposed budget calls for revenues of $29.91 million and expenditures of $29.85 million, or a surplus of around $62,000. When added to the expected unreserved fund balance at the end of the current fiscal year, that would mean an unreserved fund balance of $92,526. That is far below the amount the board would like to have on hand.

The budget assumes an enrollment increase of 1.27 percent, far less than the 4 to 6.9 percent the district had enjoyed over the past few years. It also assumes that the scheduled 1 percent increase in state per pupil funding will remain, and that efforts in the legislature to increase that amount will not be enacted.

The district will receive state aid of $5,124 per pupil unit.

Revenues for 2008-09 are up 7.76 percent according to this budget. Most of that is due to the operating levy that was passed last November, while the rest comes from the 1 percent increase in state funding and an enrollment increase.

The board will receive more information at the next two meetings and will need to approve the budget before the end of the fiscal year, on June 30. They discussed passing the budget either in late May or early June.

Class sizes

Prior to the meeting, teachers Kristina Madigan and Brian Triplett from Raven Stream Elementary gave a presentation on the benefits of smaller class sizes. The presentation was in response to a request by board member Dan Carlson at a previous meeting to see some of the research.

Madigan and Triplett said the four new positions requested in the budget proposal would keep the three elementary schools in line with the guidelines established by the school board when the two new elementary buildings opened in 2006. Two of the new positions would be at Eagle View elementary in Elko New Market. One would reduce fourth grade class sizes from 31 to 25 and the other would reduce second grade class sizes from 23 to 20. A fifth grade position at Falcon Ridge would bring class sizes down from 34 to 26 and a second grade position at Raven Stream would bring class sizes down from 25 to 20.

The two gave information from the American Education Research Association that showed the benefits of smaller class sizes.

The evidence shows increases in achievement and a narrower gap between ethnic groups with smaller class sizes

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