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Board hears from Discovery Zone parents, update on stadium seating

HOT SPRINGS – Hot Springs School District Board of Education approved its 2017-18 budget at its Sept. 11 meeting, which features $5.648 million in General Fund (down approximately $215,000), $1.321 million in Capital Outlay (down approximately $226,000), $1.1 million in Special Education (down approximately $156,000) and $110,000 in Impact Aid (down $180,000).

“What a challenge,” said Business Manager Deb Ollerich describing how the budget was put together and the “significant cuts” the district made to get it assembled.

The school district must ask for the maximum levy from the county auditor in order to achieve its budget goals, Ollerich told the school board. This would be required even after a $290,000 reduction in staff due to attrition and retirements, said Superintendent Kevin Coles.

The budget allows from more than $1.1 million for elementary instruction, $638,500 for middle school instruction and about $963,000 for high school instruction. Title I is another large figure, nearly $269,000.

The Special Education budget of $1.1 million includes early childhood programs; residential programs; psychological counseling; speech, hearing and audiology services; physical and occupational therapy, and other efforts along with a $124,349 line item for the Special Education Director.

Other top budget areas include:

Care and upkeep for the district’s buildings and grounds tallies approximately $637,000.

Sports activities (football, boys basketball, wrestling, golf, girls sports, volleyball, cheer/dance band, choir, drama and soccer) tally around $549,000, plus $69,542 for Activities Director expenses and about $29,000 for “co-curricular” transportation.

Serving the district’s debt is a $452,000 expense.

Other large line items include:

•$93,851 for Transportation

•Between $136,760 and $150,228 each for principals’ offices in Elementary, Middle School and High School

•$146,000 for Technology Coordinator

•$149,808 for Superintendent/CEO

•$186,000 for the Business Manager - Fiscal line item.

The district anticipates $5.65 million in General Fund income for 2017-18. This would include $1.7 million in general fund local taxes, along with $2.63 million in state aid, and $256,000 in Title I money. The district will transfer in another $357,700.

The district also anticipates $1.3 million in Capital Outlay income which includes nearly $1.2 million in local tax revenue. There is also an anticipated $1.1 million in Special Education income, along with $110,000 in Impact Aid.

In other business, the school board heard from a group of concerned parents who would like the district to provide children at the Discovery Zone with transportation to the school.

Miranda Knutson spoke for a group of about a dozen parents when she told the board about how school age children walking to school from the Discovery Zone, could be helped by transportation, especially in winter when the sidewalks are slippery with ice. She said the kids see the ice as fun, while the parents she represented see the ice as a potential injury to their children.

Taking other routes to the school, including the stairs up over the hill behind Castle Manor, are not always clean, and when it is cold, this is a long walk for kids age 9 – 13.

Altogether, she said, about 16 kids would need busing in the morning, and 13 would need busing in the afternoon.

The board offered to take this under advisement and discuss it at a future date.

Also, Coles noted that the district had received an $18,000 Homeland Security grant for its door project. He also updated the board on the stadium seating project, which the Hot Springs Bison Athletics Hall of Fame had begun earlier this summer. He said the group had raised more than half the money required to begin the project, so the first phase of the project’s construction will get under way, following football season and pending final approval by the board.

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