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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Raises approved for Monett school staff

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Following a budget workshop last week, the Monett R-1 Board of Education approved a preliminary budget for the 2012-13 school year that includes raises of about 2.5 percent for district employees.

Board members approved increasing the base pay for certified teachers by $750, raising the new base to $34,050. Increases in steps crediting years of service were also increased, making the range of raises from 2.3 to 2.8 percent.

There was no base change for non-certified staff. Salary steps were increased at year three, four and six by 10 cents per hour, giving a 30-cent increase for staff with six years of experience.

"The majority of the non-certified staff have been here five or more years," said Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann, attending his last meeting.

"The board feels they want to commit every dollar they can to our incredible workforce," Jungmann said. "They always wish they could do more. They're being as aggressive as they can."

The budget projected revenues of $23,229,400 and expenditures of $22,332,539. Jungmann said a fairly large surplus is projected.

Two significant changes will impact the district financially in the coming year. Due to a change in state law, assessed valuation of personal and commercial property dropped. The law used to keep the valuation of commercial equipment at 30 percent. Depreciation has now been dropped to 10 percent for equipment installed after January 2006. Older equipment can still be assessed at the old rate.

The change was phased in over three years. Next year will include the most significant decline, leaving a potential $5 million reduction in personal and commercial property for the R-1 district. The consequence of the change will be higher taxes for individuals.

"When the district grew and our assessed valuation increased, we had to roll back the tax rate so the district didn't outrun the Consumer Price Index and draw more taxes than the law allows," Jungmann said. "We could grow by 3 or 4 percent, but if we grew by 8 percent, we had to roll the levy back.

"When the opposite happens, we can roll the levy back up to acquire the same amount of dollars," Jungmann continued. "We won't know how much the increase will be till after the Board of Equalization meets. We have a voter approved ceiling of $3.31 on $100 of assessed property. Over the years, that amount has dropped to $3.05 and was currently $3.08. Next year it will probably go up eight or nine cents.

"It will be more dollars out of everyone's pocket, less than the district was approved to take but more than we've been taking," Jungmann said. "The board does not want a tax increase, but we need to bring in the same amount of dollars."

On the positive side, Jungmann said real estate valuation in the district increased by about $1 million, minimizing the need for further levy hikes. Personal property valuations in Lawrence County rose for the first time in several years.

The second change is the cutting of federal funds for the Title I program. Under the failure of the Congressional Super Committee to reduce federal spending, automatic across the board cuts in funding will go into effect. The Monett district anticipates receiving $50,000 less for Title I programs.

"The bottom line is we're using a little of our cushion in the annual budget to cover the loss," Jungmann said. "Patrons will see no impact here. We're keeping the same staff and doing all the same things."

The money used for technology would come from local funds. The district has been using technology money to buy enough iPads to have one for every two students from kindergarten through fourth grade. Hybrid units are being acquired for grades five and six as well. The pace of buying equipment may slow down. Jungmann said it is not yet clear if the federal funds will be withheld.

"A conservative budget, growth in our student population and an increase in state funding allows us not to have the pain other districts are experiencing with these cuts," Jungmann said.

State law allows school districts to move a maximum 7 percent of the money in the incidental fund into its building fund once a year in June. Board members approved the transfer of about $1.1 million.

To build additional storm shelters

with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the district will need around three such transfers to raise enough local matching money. Jungmann said if the board can transfer a similar amount next year, the needed total will be close. With additional state money, Jungmann anticipated the projects could proceed without impacting operational funds.



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