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Look changes, but money concerns remain




The Hays USD 489 Board of Education work session Monday night had a new look.

The board eliminated broadcasts of work session discussions, and tables were arranged in a square in the middle of the room for the meeting participants.

The room was different, but the red ink in the $50 million budget was the same.

When board members discussed reorganizing the central office staff, Josh Waddell expressed concern over business manager Tracy Kaiser's workload and asked about hiring someone to assist.

"The bottom line is ... we can't afford to hire anybody right now," Interim Superintendent Dean Katt said.

Kansas State Department of Education representatives estimate the district has a $1 million shortfall in the general, supplement and special education funding from what was expected, Katt said.

Katt and Kaiser met with the KSDE staff last month in Topeka.

"I think we have the special-ed piece worked out," Katt said.

There are some areas where the amounts budgeted are more than the actual expenses will be.

"The general fund is the one that's real concerning now because we need to go through and find every dime. We were going through looking for $1,000 items, and when you're looking for $1 million that doesn't go very fast."

Preliminary findings show if some costs -- such as electricity -- have been inflated, and the $395,000 contingency fund is depleted, the district might be able to shave $564,000 off the budget.

With the special education shortfall eliminated, "I think that would cover the difference. But until we get through the whole process, we don't know for sure if what we're talking about is accurate or not," Katt said.

"This morning, we did restrict overtime, and also we won't be approving any elective type purchases, something that can wait," Kaiser said.

"We're still going to have a little bit (of overtime), because we're shorthanded on things. ... But overall, where we were spending just over $108,000 in overtime every year just on the custodial piece, there's going to be a big savings," Katt said.

Darren Schumacher, board vice president, asked Katt for a reminder of how the district got to this point.

"The budget that was submitted to the state was inflated by 90 FTE (full-time equivalent students), and most of the weightings were inflated as well," Katt said. "This was inflated a lot more than normal."

Only transportation weighting increased, and that was by a slight amount.

The budget was built on an enrollment of 2,900 FTE, a 3-percent increase from last year's 2,804.4 FTE.

The board also entered into two executive sessions for a total of 45 minutes with the board, Katt, Kaiser and board attorney Bill Jeter to discuss negotiations and non-elected personnel.