The Board of Education’s Finance Committee voted to increase the proposed 2022-23 budget by just under $1.1 million after adding four items before sending the budget to the full board for a vote.
The overall proposed budget now sits at $366 million, of which $58 million is funded through grants.
The first was a $331,000 increase to cover increases in health care costs. School officials said that the state provider sent them updated projections, which necessitated an increase in this area.. They hope to have a final number from the state in May before the official budget is set.
The second item was an addition of $350,000 to fund a project manager and architect for the facilities department. The Board of Education is in the midst of finalizing a long-term plan for school construction projects which are estimated to cost $400 million over 10 years.
These staffers would allow the district to “stop outsourcing” some small projects, save in some areas of construction costs, and allow for a “more seamless” process since these staffers would work for the district and know its priorities.
“(These positions would) improve how we build things if we’re going to be able to get enough out of the boom in school buildings as our students deserve,” said Board Member Benjamin Lee.
Superintendent Tamu Lucero said that they have “proposed a very large master facilities plan” and these positions would ensure that someone is keeping an eye on all those projects from start to finish. She said that if the district had a project manager in place for the Strawberry Hill school construction project, it “would have been built a year before.”
The third item was $140,000 to cover the costs of caps, gowns, and yearbooks for graduating seniors.
The fourth addition was to add $250,000 to the school district’s communications budget to improve its outreach efforts—with both parents and members of the public—and internally with staff members and students.
Board members, including Lee, said that this was particularly useful in a time when the district was embarking on large construction projects and other initiatives such as block scheduling.
“We need more resources to reach into populations,” Lee said. “We need to keep as many young families as we can.”
The full Board of Education will vote on the proposed budget on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. The budget then will be sent on to the Board of Finance.