School board budget will decrease next year

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

Portales Municipal Schools has a tentative budget of $22.2 million for next fiscal year, down $821,191 from this year.

Board of Education members approved the tentative budget at their meeting Monday in the schools’ administration building. The district must submit a final budget by June 20.

For the upcoming fiscal year, $20.8 million comes from the state and $1.4 million from federal stimulus money, according to budget documents. Without federal stimulus money, Superintendent Randy Fowler said, the district would have had $2 million less for this year’s budget because of the state’s financial shortfall.

Director of Finance Carol Kriegshauser said the budget committee’s first priority was keeping all employees.

“Thankfully, we’ve been able to meet that goal,” she said.

Teachers received a small salary “step,” meaning more pay, but administrators didn’t.

Decreases in enrollment, at-risk students and the amount the state gives the district for each student, along with other funding changes, have contributed to the schools seeing less revenue, she said.

Steps to make ends meet included removing construction services from the budget, decreasing student and teacher travel, and not replacing employees who resigned.

“We’ve just gone through and cut back anywhere we could find to cut, so it’s going to be a lean year,” Kriegshauser said.

However, she said it would be a good year, too.

In other business, the board:

• unanimously voted to continue their membership in the National School Board Association. The cost is $4,250 for all five board members for a year.

• awarded a bid of about $334,000 to WWRC Inc. to replace the roof at Valencia Elementary School. WWRC construction services operate out of Amarillo.

• approved a personnel report that included Brown Early Childhood Center Principal Jackie Burns becoming special student services director, James Elementary School Principal Rebecca Flen becoming principal at Brown and James Elementary Instructional Leader Mark Gormley becoming principal at that school.

• moved the date of the next meeting to 6 p.m. May 18, in the administration building.

• heard Roger and Victoria Garrett, who live near Portales High School, ask the board to take an official position on a proposed zone change that would allow a barbecue restaurant to open in a residential area near the school. Victoria Garrett works as an inside sells representative at the Portales News-Tribune.