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Troy trustees nix levy increase

| March 11, 2004 11:00 PM

By Brent Shrum, Western News Reporter

Following the recommendations of a community advisory committee, the Troy School Board has decided to cut more than $120,000 from the district¹s elementary and high school budgets rather than ask the voters to approve a levy increase.

Last year, voters rejected a $49,000 elementary school levy by a margin of 175 to 157. The levy request came after the board had already decided to trim $62,000 from the budget to reduce the shortfall. In 2002, the voters approved more than $100,000 in levy increases for both the elementary and high school budgets.

District superintendent Brady Selle told the school board on Tuesday that after several meetings to review projections the committee was recommending that the deficits of $47,254 for the elementary and $76,357 for the high school be made up with cuts rather than tax increases.

³There were a lot of tough questions asked, and we really had to justify each of the line items,² Selle said.

Projected revenues for the elementary budget got a boost when the district picked up 10 additional junior high students in the official February enrollment count, Selle said. The February count is used along with a count in October to determine enrollment-based funding from the state.

Most of the cuts in the elementary budget are not substantial but consist of using other sources of funding, such as paying portions of salaries and programs through an increase in federal funding for the district, Selle said. More than $20,000 is being saved through the retirements of a teacher and a custodian whose replacements will be at the lower end of the salary scale.

Portions of the salaries for the superintendent and a clerk, formerly part of the elementary and high school general fund budgets, will be paid through the transportation budget following their assumption of some of transportation coordinator Tony Stephenson¹s duties following Stephenson¹s resignation.

More than $8,000 across the two budgets will be saved by dropping the district¹s optional student insurance program. The elimination of the program has the potential to be one of the few recommended cuts that could have a noticeable impact on students, Selle said.

In the high school budget, $18,000 will be saved by eliminating a part-time English teaching position. About $9,000 will be cut by eliminating a second computer lab aide position that had gone unfilled anyway, Selle said.

More than $6,000 will be saved by cutting funding for the cross-country, VICA, Problem Solvers and Science Olympiad programs, which have seen little participation in recent years.

A wide range of other line items across the high school will be trimmed including supplies, travel, technical services, professional dues and telephone expenses. A deficit of more than $11,000 that remained after cuts were identified might be cut by moving a full-time staff member to half-time or through early retirement incentives, Selle said.

The district is not required to adopt a final budget until August.

³We¹re real early in this budget process,² Selle said.