At the Aug. 19 meeting, the Fairfield School Board adopted the budget for the 2019-20 school year, approved student attendance agreements, discussed raising pay-to-play fees and activity ticket prices and hired final staff members.
The total budget for the 2019-20 Fairfield School District is $4,623,031. The budget breaks down to $2,227,132 in the high school district and $2,395,899 in the elementary or approximately 110.34 and 151.62 mills respectively. Both budgets are slightly down from the 2018-19 budgets of $2,145,114 in the high school and $2,271,819 in the elementary.
Fairfield School Superintendent Les Meyer reviewed the budget before the board adopted it.
He compared the combined mills the district has requested taxpayers to pay for the past five years. The combined elementary and high school mills for the 2019-20 school year are 261.96. The mills over the past four years were: 259.95 in 2018-129; 259.58 in 2017-18; 261.69 in 2016-17; and 278.56 in 2015-16.
“We continue to operate the budget with a slight fluctuation upward but with the mill value we have been able to maintain fairly even for the taxpayers,” Meyer said.
In May the Fairfield voters approved an elementary district levy of $18,757.15 or approximately 4.29 mills. Meyer said the district has not requested an additional levy in the last five years for the high school and seven or eight for the elementary district. He said the district has been able to use the multidistrict agreement since 2017 to help with rising costs. Projecting some larger maintenance concerns in the future that will mean additional costs, he added. “Once you lose the budgeting authority, you can never get that back.”
During the meeting, Meyer stressed that the district wants to be fiscally responsible to the tax base. But like many school districts, Fairfield is facing an aging facility that has boiler and roof problems among other maintenance issues.
The high school budget breaks down as follows: $1,362,132 in the general fund; $175,000, transportation; $309, 883, bus depreciation; $9,089, tuition; $199,810, retirement; $21,086, adult education; $1,196, technology; $132,196, flexibility; and $16,739, building reserve.
The elementary budget includes these appropriations: $1,557,916, general fund; $160,000, transportation; $319,445, bus depreciation; $24,950, tuition; $191,975, retirement; $10,000, adult education; $1,481, technology; $120,131, flexibility; and $10,000, building reserve.
During the meeting Meyer reviewed the projects completed during the summer. He noted there were some issues with the surfacing of the gymnasium floor that required the company to return and redo the project. He thanked Greenfields Irrigation District for assisting with spreading the gravel in the school parking lot.
Meyer asked for the board’s approval, which it granted, in balancing the district financial statement as recommended by the auditors while doing the yearly audit. He said there are no missing funds, however during the change of three clerks over a short time, there are some bookkeeping entries which do not match the funds with the county.
Meyer said District Clerk Denise Grant has spent considerable time investigating the issue but to start off the year even the board needs to approve writing off the dollar amount of the discrepancy.
Grant said she will continue to look for the bookkeeping entries causing the problems as time allows. However she agreed it would be best to start with a matching balance in all accounts for the new budget year.
The board discussed, but did not approve, increasing either the pay-to-play fee or activity ticket prices. Understanding it is late this year for an increase, especially to the activity tickets, Meyer said the district has not increased the cost of student ticket prices for 30 years. The activity price for students is $25 for the year. The pay-to-play fee could be increased during the winter sports season if approved by the board. This fee has not been increased for 15 years. Students pay $25 per sport with an individual and family maximum.
The discussion on increasing the fee started when Vonnie Jacobson, who has had a photography contract with the school district for 19 years to take junior high and high school team sports pictures, did not sign a contract for this year. Meyer explained the district is looking at options including offering a stipend to the district’s art teacher Mary Mathison to take these photos for the district. The increase for the two fees would help in paying for her stipend along with other increased costs.
The board agreed with offering Mathison a stipend for the position and agreed to discuss fee increases later this year or next year.
In other action, the board:
•Approved 69 applications from out-of-district students to attend Fairfield Public Schools. School officials said this is about average for applicants yearly. At the beginning of the school year, Fairfield School District had a total of 73 out-of-district applications from 41 families from Power, Golden Ridge and Greenfield school districts in Teton County, the valley school districts from Cascade County and Augusta School District in Lewis and Clark.
•Approved the sale of obsolete and surplus equipment.
•Approved the bus driver negotiations of a 3.5% increase for each of the next two years.
•Hired Ruth Berglund as a bus driver.