BROKEN BOW—The Broken Bow Board of Education ended the month of August with a work session and budget hearing on Monday night. Superintendent Darren Tobey said all grades are back in session following a week-long closure for preschool and grades 6-12 due to 24 staff members being in quarantine for COVID-19 concerns. (Click here for the August 18 story.)
Mr. Tobey said things are going well and kids want to be in school. He said three people are currently awaiting COVID-19 test results and another three people are in quarantine. The mask mandate remains in effect until September 7.
During the budget hearing portion of the meeting on August 31, Mr. Tobey said the overall budget will likely be set at $10,999,999 with expenses projected to be around $10.5 million for 2020-2021. Projected revenue for the next budget year is about $10.6 million.
“The proposed budget is no change from the prior two years. So exactly what we’re asking for as far as total dollars from the public is exactly the same as what we’ve asked the previous 2-3 years,” Darren Tobey said. “The only change is we’re putting some more money in our building fund versus the general fund. So again, both taxable funds—so if we want another $100,000 in building we won’t tax for $100,000 in the general fund, we’ll tax it out of the special building fund so no change whatsoever.”
Mr. Tobey added, “I’d be hard pressed to find another school that’s kept the budget the same for four years. Now you can look at that and say we’ve done a good job on spending or you can look at it and say four years ago they taxed you way too much money, whatever way you want to look at it.”
The proposed property tax request is $7,980,808 with the proposed 2020 tax rate coming in at 0.822213 (82 cents) for the general fund. Valuations are down 3% from last year and the tax ask is 2% higher than last year.
“I would just say that the levy—you’re going to see the levy increase because valuations decreased. But the spend ask will be the same as last year. We just managed to keep costs below what our tax ask has been and therefore we don’t need to keep increasing our tax ask,” Treasurer J.B. Atkins said.
Other than representatives from local media outlets, no members of the public were present during Monday night’s work session. When asked why the public was not in attendance as compared to years past, board member Gerald Pirnie said he believes it is due to leadership.
“Three years ago we were sitting here and we decided on a $10.9 budget and there was 250 people in here and everybody was mad and what three years later we’re still at the same dollar amount. What a difference leadership makes,” Pirnie said.
Following the budget hearing, the board discussed the first reading of the complaint policy procedure taking place later this month, the possibility of purchasing a minivan, the need for daily bus route drivers, and a special education update. The district will not have a SPED director this year and instead Mr. Tobey, Rusty Kluender, and Kim Jonas will be dividing the responsibilities.
The Broken Bow school board will hold a regular meeting on Monday, September 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library. The board will hold another budget hearing, a tax request hearing, and then vote on the 2020-2021 budget.