Uncertainty about employee contracts has left Westerville City Schools without a 2011 budget for the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

Uncertainty about employee contracts has left Westerville City Schools without a 2011 budget for the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

A temporary budget, passed at Monday's school board meeting, will sustain the district until contracts are approved with all four employee bargaining units. Contracts with all four unions expire this summer.

The temporary appropriation of $33.7-million from the district's general fund, agreed upon by a 5-0 vote of board members, represents about 25 percent of the fiscal year 2010 general fund budget, treasurer Scott Gooding explained.

"This is not the annual or permanent appropriations for the year," Gooding said.

The fiscal year 2011 budget has been projected at $149-million, but board members elected to approve a temporary appropriation instead of a full budget until contract agreements with district employees are finalized. Employee salaries and benefits make up about 83 percent of the overall budget.

Board member Kevin Hoffman reminded the public and other board members that a full budget will have to be passed soon. State law gives the district until Oct. 1 to approve a final budget.

"I'm worried about the timing," Hoffman said. "We were able to able to appropriate a quarter of (last year's) general fund (so) we won't be able to make it a quarter of the way through the year."

But board President Kristi Robbins said approving a temporary appropriation is just as valid as a full budget.

"The other option was to go ahead and make a full appropriation," she said. "However, not knowing the outcome of the various (negotiations), this is just another way of going about it."

If the board had decided to pass a full budget, it would have had to be amended after the contracts were finalized.

"Either way we looked at it, it was at least a two-step process," Gooding said.

In other business, the board approved changes to the transportation boundaries for Fouse Elementary School and Genoa Middle School, expanding the walking boundaries to include approximately 155 students who are currently bused to the schools.

About 110 Fouse students and 45 Genoa students who live in the Covington Meadows and Genoa Farms neighborhoods will walk to school, starting this fall.

Changes to the walking boundaries of many other Westerville school buildings were approved in the summer of 2008, but Fouse and Genoa changes were postponed until the sidewalks and crosswalks could be built.

As requested at the May 24 board meeting, the school zone has been extended 300 feet north and a 20-mile-per-hour speed limit sign has been installed by Delaware County, said Jeff LeRose, executive director of facilities and operations.

Hoffman requested that the district examine the cost of upgrading school-zone signs to flashing signs. "Except for that school zone, it's a fairly fast road," he said.