Johnstown Independent

Johnstown-Monroe schools

Board approves financial forecast

By By MARLA K. KUHLMAN
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The Johnstown-Monroe Local School District should remain financially sound through the 2012-13 school year if funding sources remain as they are, said treasurer Tammy Woods.

The school board unanimously approved the five-year financial forecast during its meeting April 12. The forecast is similar to the one presented in November.

"What has changed are the assumptions in the forecast," Woods said. "The money isn't the question, but the sources (are). That's the big question."

The forecast shows the district spending $1.7-million more than it generates in fiscal year 2013.

Woods said the district would know by June 2011 what the state will do concerning school funding.

The final three years of the forecast assume the current funding formula, which guarantees a district will receive at least as much state funding as it did in the previous fiscal year, will continue to be in effect.

There has been a small upturn in the number of home sales within the Johnstown-Monroe district, according to Woods.

"Even in this economy, some stuff is moving in Johnstown," she said.

The district's income tax collections haven't faltered, either.

"We're still growing at 3 percent," Woods said. "That's keeping us steady."

Residents of the district approved a 1-percent income tax renewal in November 2008, with collections continuing through Dec. 31, 2013.

Woods estimates the district will continue to be "flat funded" through the state and the 9.6-mill emergency levy voters approved in May 2009 would keep Johnstown-Monroe in the black for a few years.

"There's not a huge comfort zone," she said. "We're in a much better state than last year. Any time you're better than the year before is a plus in the schools."

Another positive for the district is that health insurance rates for both fiscal years 2010 and 2011 should not increase, although dental increased 2.5 percent in 2010.

Woods said the forecast projected an average rate increase of 7.5 percent for insurance benefits each year except for 2010, when a 2.5-percent increase was used, and in 2011, when no increase was used.

The forecast shows an 18-percent increase in annually purchased services. Those services include occupational and physical therapy, counseling and legal services, transportation, utilities and open enrollment, among others.

Heating costs increased by 80 percent in 2006 and 2007 and are expected to continue to rise.

Board member Jay Young said companies can research utility bills to see if the district is paying too much.

Superintendent Damien Bawn said a previous report showed J-M is not being overcharged.

Woods said community schools are the district's "big killer," with almost $450,000 leaving the district through open enrollment.

Bawn said the district does not have the space or the teachers for those children.

In other board action, the following items were approved:
  • A $100 donation by Don Jakeway for a boys' and girls' bicycle incentive and $50 from Mr. and Mrs. Jack Cox for bicycle helmets.
  • Establishment of the Adams uniform trust fund and the Energy Cooperative grant for Adams Middle School computers. Adams principal Debbie Seibel said her goal is to raise $2,500 for the uniform fund that will provide clothing for students who need assistance to meet a new dress code policy in the fall. In addition, she said an Adams teacher received a $2,000 grant for five netbooks through the Energy Cooperative's Operation Round Up program.
  • A contract with Legend Lawn and Landscape at $415 per cut for 2010.
  • A change in the wording of a three-year administrative contract for Searfoss Elementary principal Janet Smith to reflect the correct salary of $59,505.
  • Continuance of open enrollment within the district for the 2010-2011 school year.
  •  The retirement of Cindi Reeves, second-grade teacher at Oregon Elementary, effective August 16. She has taught 35 years in the Johnstown district.
The next school board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 10, in council chambers.

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