The Rapid City Area Schools Board of Education gave preliminary approval Thursday to a $161 million budget for 2013-14.

A public hearing on the proposed budget will take place at the next regular board meeting on May 16, after which the board must give final approval.

The budget includes $161,086,515 in expenditures and the same amount in revenues, a balancing act board member Jeff Nelsen commended.

"It's good to see our expenditures match our revenue," Nelsen said. "It wasn't always like that in years past." 

Thursday's meeting took place at the Rapid City Performing Arts Center in Rapid City High School on Columbus Street to accommodate 43 retiring teachers and a Retirement Tea celebration with punch and cake before the meeting.

A message from Superintendent Tim Mitchell, who was out of state at a conference, was read at the meeting. He mixed in a little humor to take the sting out of saying goodbye to the group of experienced educators.

"Remember, retirement is like a long vacation in Vegas," Mitchell wrote to the teachers. "The goal is to enjoy it to the fullest but make sure not to run out of money." 

He also invited them to come back and substitute from time to time. 

Assistant Superintendent Katie Bray said during the superintendent's report that the turnout for a teacher job fair in Sioux Falls in April was disappointing.

"We conducted interviews, but way fewer than we have in years past," Bray said.

Board President Sheryl Kirkeby said Gov. Dennis Daugaard told her last week that the Legislature plans to conduct a summer study regarding education funding. She said it was considering the possibility of co-mingling funds so that certain amounts are not separated and designated specifically for things like the Special Education Fund or the Food Service Fund.

Dave Janak, director of finance and budget for RCAS, said that if the Legislature takes any action as a result of the summer study, it will not affect the budget until at least the 2014-15 school year. 

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for May 16 at the City/School Administration Center on Sixth Street.

Contact Jennifer Naylor Gesick at 394-8415 or jennifer.naylorgesick@rapidcityjournal.com.

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