Nisky tackles school budget concerns

"Why is that jumping? We don't really know. We assume it is based on the fact that the stock market is just starting to recover, but [the state] uses a five-year average to build back the fund to its full 100 percent," said Baughman.

Baughman said there needs to be a balance between the needs of the community, he said, and what residents can and will be willing to pay.

The district's recently completed budget survey, which was completed by 736 people.

"The less costly items were rated less highly and, unfortunately, the items that are very expensive, like staffing, were rated quite highly," said Baughman. "All items were [rated] at least somewhat important. There wasn't any item that wasn't rated at least somewhat important. Again, it depends on whom you ask. Everything we have on the budget is at least valued by some groups or all groups."

While no context was provided regarding the cost, maintaining smaller elementary school class sizes was highly valued across all demographic groups. There was also strong support by all demographic groups for a full-time nurse and principal in each building and daily cleaning of buildings by custodial staff.

There were a few items holding a rating average below a 2.5 value, with 5 being essential and 1 being less important, where all groups seemed to be in agreement.

The two lowest rated items in the survey, both holding an average rating of 2.41, were district publications and assistant principals at the high school, of which there are currently three. Maintaining elementary foreign language programs from first to third grade held an average rating value of 2.47.

During the question-and-answer portion of the forum, residents shared some of their concerns on how to save money in the district.

Ken Johnson, 20-year resident, asked if the board has looked at outsourcing transportation, and Assistant Superintendent for Business Matthew Bourgeois said the district has looked into the solution, but so far maintaining in-house control has seemed the better option. Bourgeois said the district does constantly review the bus runs and efficiency.

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