Blackfoot School District passes budget

Blackfoot School District 55 will see a more than $1.14 million increase in state revenue in the upcoming fiscal year — a positive sign, but still less than what district officials say is needed.

The district’s board passed the 2014-15 fiscal year budget Thursday. The $29.6 million budget includes $23.53 million in maintenance and operation funds and $6.07 million in all other funds.

“Any increase from the state is very appreciated but we can always use more,” business manager Brian Kress said. “We’re still well short of where the state funded us before the major, major cuts. We’re getting by, but we sure would like to someday — sooner rather than later — get to the way we were funded in 2008-09.”

That additional state revenue will be used to help fund expenses such as insurance benefits for teachers, along with building maintenance, Kress said.

Teachers also will receive a 1 percent base salary increase in the upcoming year, Kress said, as well as movement on the salary schedule. (Salary schedules outline teacher pay based on years of experience and education.) Those who already have topped out on the salary schedule will receive a 3 percent, one-time payment in November, Kress said.

The budget also reflects a nearly $400,000 decrease in salary expenditures, which Kress said partially is due to teacher retirement. Those who were at the top of the salary schedule when they retired are replaced with new teachers who make less.

The salary decrease also is attributed to, along with a more than $234,000 decrease in benefits expenditures, the district’s switch this fiscal year to contracted custodial services. In May, the school board accepted a recommendation to outsource janitorial services to GCA Services Group, a Cleveland-based company. The move took effect Tuesday.

That switch also is reflected in the budget’s $1.2 million increase in purchased services expenditures, Kress said. The contracted custodial services will cost an estimated $1 million.

The budget also shows a more than $247,000 increase in capital outlay expenditures, which Kress said includes additional maintenance projects and technology for the upcoming year, made possible through the increase in state revenue.

“That could include things like refurbishing our main entrance to our high school; that’s kind of been a sore spot for some time, and now we have the funds to do that,” Kress said. “(Prior to this year) when we were trying to save money, we did our best to cut expenditures, and now, we’re trying to get some of those things back into our routine.”

Reporter Kirsten Johnson can be reached at 542-6757.