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Bickleton School Board approves $1.5 million operating budget

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Bickleton School District Business Manager Judy Naught (far right) explains the process used to create the district's 2004-05 budget adopted by the Bickleton School Board Tuesday night. Pictured are School Directors (L-R) Susan Powers, John Jensen, Board Chair Gary Hess and School Superintendent Rick Palmer. (Not pictured are Board members Tom Mains and Billie Brown.)

BICKLETON - The Bickleton School Board approved an operating budget of $1,565,143 for the 2004-05 school year, which is the same amount of money the small school district spent last year to educate the community's children.

During Tuesday night's board meeting the school directors learned next year's school budget varies little from last year's operating costs.

According to District Business Manager Judy Naught, the bulk of the budget is designed to provide education for an expected enrollment of 115 students in grades kindergarten through 12.

Naught told the board the budget also contains an $8,000 increase for staff salaries.

According to Rick Palmer, district superintendent, the budget provides salaries for 14 certificated staff, one administrator and six classified employees.

Palmer said the budget revenues include the second portion of three-year No Child Left Behind grant money for the Reading First program.

"The budget is basically the same as last year's budget," he said.

"Like other school districts, we are headed into year two of the federal Reading First program, so funds have been allowed for paying for a reading coach and the necessary materials for that program," he told the board.

He said former kindergarten teacher Crystal Merfeld has been hired as the district's half-time reading coach.

The budget also includes funds to cover the cost of adopting the district's new math curriculum.

The district has also hired a new science teacher, a combination third-fourth grade teacher and a half-time kindergarten teacher.

Palmer said the kindergarten program is a full-time program, even though students go to school all day, three days a week.

In addition, the budget has been adjusted to provide a 3.4 percent increase to cover the district's expanded special education program, Naught said.

"We are currently seeking to hire a special education teacher for the program," she explained.

In addition to the $1.5 million in operating costs, the Bickleton School Board approved an Associated Student Body Fund of $32,800, with $6,000 placed in the Capital Projects Fund.

Since the district purchased a new school bus last year, only $40,000 is budgeted for transportation costs this coming school year. The district has no outstanding bonds, so no funds were placed into the debt service fund.

Palmer said the district doesn't plan any capital projects in the coming year, adding that the only major project planned for the new year are improvements to the gym floor.

"That project is already done," he said.

Naught said the district spent $10,000 to replace the gym floor and plans to add some additional storage units later in the year. The money for the gym improvements came from the district's ASB fund.

The Bickleton School District will begin its new school year Aug. 25.

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