Madison district passes $42.5 million budget

Madison School District 321 will see a more than $861,000 increase in state revenue in the upcoming fiscal year, which officials say is a sign things are looking up.

“Cuts in recent years have been pretty heavy from the state,” business manager Varr Snedaker said. “The last few years, it’s been restoring a little more each year so that’s been positive. We’re now back to where revenue and expenses nearly balance out, and we’re not spending more than we’re taking in here and that’s a pretty good sign things are getting under control.”

School board members approved the 2014-15 fiscal year budget at their meeting Thursday, at which they also ratified a teacher’s contract agreement with the Rexburg Education Association.

The newly approved $42.5 million budget includes about $24.7 million in maintenance and operations funding and $17.7 million in all other funds.

Increased state revenue will be used to fund a 1 percent base salary increase, a 1 percent one-time bonus for teachers in December, as well utilities, supplies and other general expenses, Snedaker said.

The budget also reflects a nearly $40,000 decrease in benefits expenditures. Snedaker attributed that mostly to rising insurance costs. District staff absorb any insurance increase each year, he said.

“As the price of our health insurance goes up, some of our staff elect to find (another) way to cover insurance for themselves or family,” he said. “So we’ve had a few people who leave every year.”

The budget also includes a more than $25,000 decrease in salary expenditures, which Snedaker said is due to a decrease in one-time grant funds from the state — called differential pay this past fiscal year, and leadership premiums in the upcoming year, he said.

“It’s one-time money for that year and that amount has been going down,” he said.

The budget also factors in a possible two-year supplemental levy that the district will ask patrons to approve in August. Should the levy pass, it would amount to $515,000 in the first year and $1.995 million the second year — an increase to replace the remaining $1.48 million of the district’s existing plant facilities levy, which will expire in that second year.

If passed, money generated by the levy would be used for restoration of three of five lost furlough days, as well as facilities maintenance and restoration of some salaries cut in past years, Snedaker said.

Reporter Kirsten Johnson can be reached at 542-6757.