The Maxwell school board approved a $3.86 million budget Monday, up about $220,000 from the amount spent a year ago. Of the total, $1.87 million will come from local property taxpayers.
The school has dealt with cuts in state aid, Superintendent Dan Twarling said, which declined by 26 percent in 2011-12 and increased by only 4 percent in 2012-13. Meanwhile, six teaching positions have been dropped over the last two years, four para-educators have been eliminated and, teachers have been frugal with supplies, Twarling said.
“I really salute the staff,” Twarling said. “They have been very frugal. They know how to do more with less.”
The school receives nearly $1 million a year in state aid.
About 25 people attended the meeting, mostly to talk about the investigation into possible sexual assaults between boys on the wrestling team (see related report on the front news page.)
There were also some questions about the school finances, including the condition of the roof.
Twarling said the roof is not leaking and would be well maintained. He also said he would like to add a couple of teachers within the next two years, but the district has to be vigilant in asserting itself at the Legislature.
“We have to fight for every dollar we can get,” he said.
Twarling said that Maxwell students’ scores on state tests are above the norm, although there are some concerns about math scores. He would like to add a math teacher in the next year or two.
Twarling said more than half of the school’s enrollment are students who live in other districts and exercise their option to attend another school district.
He said there are fewer than 20 students in classes K-2, entitling the district to a bonus allocation in state aid, but that teacher-to-student-ratio bonus from the state won’t be available in the future.
“They say that money will be redistributed in the formula, but we’ll see how that works,” he said.
Spanish is taught though distance learning, which Twarling said is a good program, but not as ideal as a live teacher. In response to a question from the audience, Twarling said the distance learning program costs about $25,000 a year, considerably less than a full-time teacher.
“We’ll see how the year goes and see what we can recommend this spring. We have to look at adding a couple teachers if the economy improves and state aid is stable,” he said.
Otherwise, Twarling described the budget as “nothing alarming, pretty cut and dried.”
The overall tax levy was set at $1.08 per $100 of property, up slightly from $1.076 a year ago.
In other business, the board congratulated volleyball coach Lori Mau on recent wins over Paxton, Eustis-Farnam and Stapleton-McPherson County.
The board also approved a substitute certificate for Sonya Keith.