The Hamburg School District school board approved the proposed budget for the 2018-2019 school year at the monthly board meeting on Monday at the S.P. Portis Administration Building.

John Spradlin, finance director for the district, discussed the budget and answered questions about differences in last year’s expenditures.

The budget shows a difference of approximately $300,000 in total expenditures compared to last year’s figures. Spradlin said although the district spent just over $7 million last school year, the budgeted figure was $7.2 million and the district was under budget. This year, the district budgeted a total of approximately $6.7 million.

One of the reasons for the budget decrease, Spradlin said, is the cuts the district made to several positions that saves the district money on salaries. Additionally, the district gave out bonuses to teachers last year totaling $177,000; bonuses are not included in this year’s budget.

Although the overall budget is lower than last year’s figures, Superintendent Tracy Streeter said she is proud of the district’s ability to reach a lower number without removing funding from student programs. The budget also does not include reimbursement payments that the district may be entitled to for funding some of those programs, she said.

Spradlin said the district has budgeted over $48,000 for tuition for welding students this year – the same amount that was spent last year – for 22 students.

“Those programs are important for our students,” Streeter said. “That money was something we tried to hold on to.”

Spradlin said the same figures will be applied to all student programs.

“If they got $5,000 last year, they’ll get $5,000 this year,” he said.

The district was forced to make cuts after enrollment numbers have dropped for several years straight. The district made $15.9 million in revenue last year, but based on enrollment numbers, the projected revenue for this year is only $15.3 million.

Spradlin said the numbers in the budget are “conservative.” He said they’re high for projected expenditures and low for expected revenue.

The district still has money left over from last year that it intends to spend this year. Namely, the district still needs to purchase new buses. The county roads the buses travel on daily take a toll on their lifespan, maintenance supervisor Bob Davis said during a meeting last school year.

Spradlin said the district currently has $60,000 that is budgeted towards buses, with an additional $35,000 from the enhanced transportation fund provided by the state.

He said, ideally, the district will be able to purchase two refurbished buses for $45,000 each. If refurbished buses are not available, he said the district would purchase a single new bus for $95,000.

Debt service fees are an area of major concern for the district in the coming years, according to the financial documents provided. Last year’s debt service payment was approximately $625,000, but this year’s figure rises to over $775,000.

Spradlin said the district can expect to pay approximately $780,000 every year for the next few years. However, he said, the district is projected millage for debt service to bring in 20 percent more revenue than the payment.

Another pressing issue from last year was the food service deficit that the district started the year with. After many changes and several staffing cuts, the district finished with a positive balance at the end of the school year.

Spradlin said he has no reason to expect this year to be any different and he foresees the food service budget to “operate in the black” throughout the year.

The board also approved a proposal to establish a salary scale for non-licensed employees, which includes custodians and maintenance employees.

The district has never had these employees on a salary scale and Streeter said “it’s about time we repay their loyalty.”

The program will cost the district over $42,000 to implement and will cost another $10,000 in benefits throughout the year; the total cost for one year will be $53,200, according to the financial statement. These numbers were not reflected in the budget the board approved.

The board unanimously approved the proposal to be retroactive back to July 1 of this year.

In other news:

- High school principal Tim Outlaw said the school will retain the services of the career coach for the 2018-2019 school year. He said the coach is “a great asset” and talks to every senior before the year is over.

- The district currently has 16 teachers that need license renewals. All 16 renewals will cost the district $1,700.

The next school board meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. at the S.P. Portis Administration Building.