LLSD preliminary budget approved

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The Los Lunas School District Board of Education approved a $58.7 million budget for next year, which has been sent to the New Mexico Public Education Department for approval.

The Los Lunas School District Board of Education approved a $58.7 million budget for next year, which has been sent to the New Mexico Public Education Department for approval.

There are no state budgetary cuts, but insurance premiums have risen for both employer and employee.

Medical premiums have risen 6.6 percent and dental 3 percent, which will cost the district $379,000 in the 2013-14 fiscal year, plus 2.25 percent extra in education retirement pensions at an additional cost of $895,000, said Claire Cieremans, chief financial officer.

"All these are mandated — what we have to pay for the employees," Cieremans said.

Total operating budget includes the $56.6 million State Equalization Guarantee, up from last year by about $2.5 million, she said.

The state legislature passed a 1 percent employee salary increase this year that will raise the district's expenses by $512,000.

An additional $220,000 has been included in the budget for 22 teachers who have earned a higher level of pay through further education and certifications.

Nearly $4 million of the budget goes to insurance premiums; almost $50 million, or 85 percent of the entire budget, pays salaries.

State unit values have been raised by $144 each, bringing up the final unit value per student to $3,817.

The district will receive about $194,000 in local taxes, about $97,600 from impact aid, and $75,000 from federal programs.

"We are carrying over a larger cash balance than we did over last year, and we'd like to do that in this year's budget as well," she said.

The nearly $2 million school bus transportation allocation is down by about $335,000. Any shortfalls are supplemented through the operations budget. "We have been supplementing transportation for the last four or five years now, and those costs continue to rise," she said.

Enrollment has been dropping since the 2010-11 school year.

"We did lose students from last year, but not a significant amount," Cieremans said.

Funding for instructional materials is down by $110,000, but Title I funding for the education of children from low-income families, is up slightly from last year.

The Idea B program which funds special education, is down by $110,700, but Title II for educator and administrative training is up slightly.

The district has been able to add four new teaching positions to the 2013-14 budget, and two Standard Assessment Test facilitators have been added for the elementary school sites.

The district also will pay for two counselor positions no longer funded through grants, and pay permanent substitute teacher benefits.

It is a status quo budget except for the mandatory increases, and a few additional positions, said Cieremans.

The final budget is expected to be approved by July 1.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.