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Lean budget under consideration

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, August 17, 2013

Don’t expect to see a lot of fat in the Decatur ISD budget for 2013-2014.

“There is nothing exotic in this budget,” said Gary Micinski, deputy superintendent for the district. ” … This is the thinnest budget I’ve ever done at Decatur.”

Micinski outlined the proposed budget with school board members at Thursday’s meeting.

The challenge, he explained, was keeping costs as low as possible while not cutting the quality. Since revenue from the state is tied directly to the number of students in the district, everyone wants quality programs that will attract students and their families to the district.

“Our business is quality education,” he said.

Some of the biggest cuts in the preliminary budget can be found in the contracted services part of the maintenance and operations budget. The district had budgeted $120,000 less for electricity, $20,000 less for water/sanitation and $5,000 less for gas next year compared to the current budget.

“It’s going to be tight,” Micinski warned.

The district has also been looking to add three school resource officers, in an effort to step up security at the three elementary schools. The City of Decatur has expressed a willingness to work with the school district, but with DISD’s budget constraints, those positions are not in the preliminary budget.

A public hearing on the proposed $1.30 tax rate and budget for the 2013-2014 school year is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at the district’s administration building.

ROAD ISSUE

The district may soon find itself purchasing a road.

Part of the renovation project turning the 1939 high school building into the administration building includes the city’s requirement of a certain number of parking spaces. As it exists now, a parking lot would need to be built because the school is not allowed to count the parking spaces on the city-owned street in front of the building on Cates Street. One option that has been discussed would be for the city to abandon the road. The school district would then need to purchase half the road from a nearby landowner in order to count the parking spaces. Superintendent Rod Townsend said the appraised value of the road is $23,000. The cost to build a new parking area is estimated at $65,000 to $70,000.

MEETING DATES TO CHANGE

For years, the Decatur School Board has met on Thursday nights. Come September, that will change.

The board agreed to move the regular meeting date from the third Thursday of the month to the third Monday of the month. Board President Kevin Haney explained that more school-related evening conflicts existed on Thursday nights rather than on Monday nights.

EAGLE WILL RETURN

Haney also cautioned people not to be alarmed to see the giant eagle painting gone from the back side of the building being renovated for the new administration building. It’s just part of the renovation process, and the eagle will be repainted soon.

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