The Columbia Public Schools finance committee met Wednesday night to discuss the school district’s budget for the next school year, including some cuts.
The school district has just under $213 million in it’s operating budget for the upcoming school year, with nearly $167 million designated for salaries and benefits.
Linda Quinley, chief financial officer, told ABC 17 News the district isn’t making very many additions to the budget this year because it wanted to prioritize the increase in employee salaries.
The finance committee will present a $3.9 million increase in salaries for employees.
An additional $200,000 will be put toward special education, which the committee said was much needed.
Along with asking the board for approval of nearly $4 million in increased salaries, the committee will seek approval for cuts in certain areas including staffing, out-of-state conferences, substitutes and supplies.
Quinley said right now on average, the district hires 113 subs a day, which costs $108 per sub.
“We hope to eliminate about 10 substitutes a day by having blackout days where teachers can’t ask for time off,” Quinley said.
The district hopes to eliminate about six teacher positions, retirement vacancies that won’t be filled, due to the need to stay conservative with the budget.
Capital Project Funds
Some projects that are scheduled for the upcoming budget include fixing Battle High School cellphone reception problems, resurfacing and upgrading the Derby Ridge Elementary School playground, and additional school interior projects.
Capital projects are typically smaller projects. Quinley said they have about $2.5 million allocated to the projects, thanks to local property taxes.
With the state budget still waiting to be finalized in Jefferson City, Quinley said there are challenges the committee faces when trying to plan.
“It’s a tenuous time of year when we are waiting for the state to wrap up. Our revenues from them (the state) appear to look as we expected– some lines up and some lines down.”
Some of those down lines include transportation funding, which Quinley said has been underfunded almost every year.
CPS spends roughly $15 million a year on transportation, and gets a little under $2 million from the state.
Dr. Peter Stiepleman echoed in the finance meeting that transportation is nearly completely locally funded and that the community has been extremely supportive in those costs.
CPS bus transportation covers more than 300 square miles.
The finance committee will present its budget draft to the school board on Monday. There will be a budget hearing on June 7, where the public can weigh in.
A final draft needs to be adopted by June 30.