Mehlville school board eyes $4.6 million in potential budget cuts

Board members to consider four-tier transportation system.


A summary of potential budget cuts totaling $4.6 million is scheduled to be presented this week to the Mehlville Board of Education.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. today — Feb. 10 — at the Administration Building, 3120 Lemay Ferry Road.

Board members asked administrators at a work session last month to prepare a recommendation on how to close a projected $4.8 million budget deficit in fiscal year 2012 using cuts and district reserves.

The list of potential cuts that will be presented to the board contains 12 items that total $4,606,000 in savings.

Among the items that carry the most savings:

• A freeze on all salaries at their current levels, $1,350,000.

• Reduction of 20 certified positions through attrition and reassignment, $900,000.

• “Realignment” of administrative positions, $550,000.

• Expenditures related to Title 1 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, both of which will be funded with federal stimulus funds, $500,000.

The summary also identifies $300,000 in savings by delaying textbook adoptions; $235,000 in savings from the recent refinancing of certificates of participation and $212,000 in savings by moving to a four-tier transportation system, eliminating 12 positions and delaying bus purchases.

Officials initially told the board that the transportation cost-saving option, which would not eliminate any free bus service to students, would save $324,000.

“The reason that says $212,000 — there was a bigger number presented earlier — is that even though those 12 positions are gone, some of those remaining drivers would have to drive some additional time,” Superintendent Terry Noble said. “So you’d have to factor that back in there.”

Potential savings also include: $200,000 by delaying asphalt repairs and other projects; $100,000 by reducing supply budgets by 15 percent and $50,000 by relocating part of the district’s bus fleet.

“If we could find a place in the southern part of the district where we could have another bus lot, over time it would pay back in terms of savings in fuel, time, labor, miles driven and things like that,” the superintendent said, noting the district would have to first buy the property for a new lot.

Given recent developments concerning state education funding, the district may end up with less of a deficit to address in next year’s budget, Noble said.

Two weeks after the Board of Education heard the projection of a $4.8 million fiscal 2012 budget deficit, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon proposed what he termed “level” state funding for K-12 education next year.

The governor’s $23.1 billion fiscal 2012 budget proposal recommends spending $5.1 billion on elementary and secondary education, down from $5.3 billion this year.

The proposal includes $2.9 billion for the state’s foundation formula, a decrease of $112.2 million from the $3 billion appropriated in fiscal 2011.

To reach “level” funding in fiscal 2012, Nixon would ask school districts to save $112.2 million in federal funds that would be distributed through the formula in fiscal 2011.

The funds are part of a federal jobs bill approved by Congress last August, from which Missouri received $189 million for education. The state must spend the money by June 30, the end of fiscal 2011.

The governor’s proposal is subject to approval from the General Assembly, which recently began the appropriations process.

Nixon also has released $17.5 million in previously withheld funds to help school districts cover transportation costs.

“It could change,” Noble said of the district’s projected budget shortfall. “It’s a moving target.”