Rangely District’s budget projections are looking better

RANGELY I After a series of tough financial decisions, including closing a school and consolidating two other schools in order to save money, budget projections for Rangely’s School District for the 2009-2010 school year are looking up.
rangelypantherbiggerFor starters, projected expenditures are down in the general operating fund, from $5.168 million to $4.655 million.
“We trimmed about $513,000 on the expenditure side,” said Steve Kraft, chief financial officer for the district. “A lot of that is attributable to our building consolidations.”
Cost-saving measures, including a “moratorium on most spending,” are paying off for the school district’s bottom line.
“We’re looking at coming in $180,000 to $200,000 under our expenditure budget for this last year, which ended June 30,” Kraft said. “That’s a lot of credit to the staff, to turn back any discretionary spending. They did their part.
“This is subject to audit adjustments, scheduled to happen the first week of September and due back in October, but we shouldn’t be too far off,” Kraft added. “I’m certainly confident we’ll be well under our budget.”
On the income side, revenue is projected at $4.47 million, down from $4.8 million projected for last year.
“But we certainly came in under that,” Kraft said. “We didn’t have that much revenue.”
Instead, revenues for ’08-’09 came in around $4.5 million.
The district’s revenue situation received a boost from the Rangely School Foundation, which kicked in about $110,000.
Looking ahead to the ’09-’10 school year, Kraft said revenues should exceed expenditures by $16,500.
While the financial picture is improving, for now anyway, the district’s administrative offices are without a permanent home.
Temporarily located in the old Parkview Elementary building, initial plans called for administrative offices to move into the remodeled wood/welding shop.
Those plans are on hold for now.
“We were directed to evaluate it and report back to the board what we think is in the best interest of the board long term,” Kraft said, adding a recommendation will be presented to the board Monday.
The high-end estimate for remodeling the wood/welding shop and converting it into space for administrative offices was around $450,000.
“Plans are on hold until the board feels comfortable on how it wants to proceed,” Kraft said.
One option is to move administrative offices back to the Early Education Center, which the district vacated in 2005 and now leases out the space. The building has been on the market.
“It is up for sale,” Kraft said. “We would like to sell it. We currently have 90 percent leased, but the rec center will be moving out of the east end of the building.”
Most recently, administrative offices were located in the middle school, which is undergoing renovations as part of the district’s $15 million school improvement project. As part of the district’s consolidation plans, the middle school building will become the new home of Parkview Elementary, with middle school classes being moved to the high school.
Of the bond money, $1.7 million was allocated for the old Parkview building, but only a portion of that remodeling money was spent, since the board made the cost-cutting decision to vacate the 30-year-old building. The building will either be sold or demolished, if a buyer can’t be found.
“We had some issues to take care of while we were in occupancy, so about $76,000 was spent (at the old Parkview building),” Kraft said. “But we’re trying to preserve as much of the $1.7 million as possible and go back to the community to see how they want it spent. At the time of the bond election, (the board) had not planned to close the Parkview building.”
Kraft said additional money will need to be allocated to expand kitchen facilities at the middle school.
“We will definitely need to use some of that funding to do that,” Kraft said. “That would still be within the spirit (of the school bond project). Just because Parkview is not on the hill anymore, it would still be elementary school allocated money.”
Remodeling at the middle school and the high school should be completed for the beginning of school. The start of classes was pushed back to Aug. 31 to allow for unforeseen delays in finishing construction work.
“Right now, we’re on budget and we’re on schedule,” Kraft said.
The board is also considering funding options for an administrative assistant to the superintendent.
“We’re in the process of getting that hashed out,” Kraft said. “We have $22,300 of potential expenditure savings in our budget and remittances to BOCES to pay for a piece of that position (formerly occupied by Patsy Drindak, who retired at the end of the school year). But we won’t proceed without board approval.”