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Budget hot topic at Mabton School Board meeting

MABTON - The Mabton School Board discussed just how far to dip into reserve funds last night. Also discussed were spending cuts, although no formal decisions have been made.

Business Manager Gina Grow said the OSPI's recommendation is to keep 10 percent of the annual budget in reserves, in Mabton's case about $1 million.

"Historically we've tried to stay closer to $2 million (in the reserves)," board member Jeanette Williams said. "I don't particularly want to go that far down."

Grow said the district will begin the school year with $1.8 million in the general fund. State and federal cuts, though, will leave Mabton with about $855,000 less than last year.

"That is if we get the revenue we project," Grow added.

Grow said they do not plan to spend everything, but if they did, it would bring the reserve fund to $1 million.

"We have a lot of work to do, this year and next, to create a balanced budget," Grow said.

Williams suggested a minimum fund balance of $1.5 million.

"If we are going to set a minimum, we need to set it a little higher," board member Blanche Tobin said.

She added that setting a higher number will deter the district from over spending.

Superintendent Minerva Morales said if the district continues with the expenditures as they are built into the budget, the year will end with $1.1 to $1.4 million in reserves.

She said if the board chooses to increase the amount left in reserves, the district is going to have some very serious decisions to make.

"There are things built into the budget that will have an impact on services and maybe even staffing," Morales said.

The board may opt to discuss personnel or program cuts in the near future.

"We might have to have those conversations, because we cannot spend that deeply into our reserve in one year's time," Williams said.

The board agreed to table the item until the next board meeting, Sept. 26.

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