SODA budget may fall short by $200k

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The School of Dreams Academy is facing a $200,000 shortfall in the 2013-14 school year because of a 20 percent hike in benefit premiums. The increase ranges from 1 to 8 percent, and varies according to what employees take out, said Geri Bennett, SODA accountant.

The School of Dreams Academy is facing a $200,000 shortfall in the 2013-14 school year because of a 20 percent hike in benefit premiums. The increase ranges from 1 to 8 percent, and varies according to what employees take out, said Geri Bennett, SODA accountant.

The total budget, calculated on an estimated enrollment of 304 students, is $3.3 million, not including state lease assistance. The preliminary budget was approved by the governing council, and is currently in Santa Fe for approval by the New Mexico Public Education Department.

Most of the premium cost increases will be offset by a $144 rise per unit in State Equalization Grant funding. Each student receives at least one SEG unit, but some students receive more for special programs and special education. SODA's total SEG allocation is $2.6 million.

"We feel pretty positive that we're not going to lose the student-teacher ratio at all, or any programs," said Bennett. "What's positive is the unit value went up, so that pretty much saved everybody statewide."

The final allocation will be known in October or November.

The school's Title I funding was recently approved schoolwide, and totals about $93,400. Title I is a federal program that provides funds to school districts and schools with high percentages of disadvantaged children to support a variety of services for them. If there is a need in student-teacher ratio, tutors can pick up any slack in the teachers available per 15 to 20 students, she said.

"Overall, the budget is good and will meet the needs of the students," Bennett said.


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