Valley Falls school budget aided by at-risks numbers
by Clarke Davis
Hard economic times — the reason schools are hard strapped for money — oddly have a few advantages when it comes to budgeting for state money.
Valley Falls Superintendent Loren Feldkamp explained to the school board Dec. 13 that one of the “weighting” factors in setting the budget is the number of at-risk students that are enrolled.
These students are determined by the number enrolled in free and reduced lunch and this is a number that hard times has caused to climb in the past few years.
The number of at-risk students has increased by more than 30 percent in two years. The number now hovers around 45 percent or 180 children in a student body of 400.
The weighting formula applied a number of 39 to the budget two years ago. This year’s factoring number is 57. When this number is multiplied by the base aid of $4,012, it’s $228,600 or $72,000 more than two years ago.
This money has to be spent in the classroom and goes to pay the salaries of teacher aides or “paras” and supports tutoring programs that help students.
Another factor that’s going to help the school the next two years is a budget allowance for new facilities.
With the new addition of a physical fitness facility, gymnasium, and classroom, the “weighted” figure for the district will be 25 or 26. If the children were in those facilities 100 percent of the time like they are in a classroom, the district would receive $100,000 each year. However, Feldkamp found out after the audit that this figure will be reduced to about $25,000 or a total of $50,000 for the two-year period.
While the board has time to digest where this money is most needed, the superintendent already has a pretty good idea.
Feldkamp told the board that the district has fallen behind in its transportation needs and must start replacing some old, tired school buses.
Transportation director Wayne Belveal presented the board with a complete inventory of vehicles, their ages, and mileage.
The oldest of eight buses is a 1993 model with 118,000 miles. Five other buses all date into the 1990s and most are at or over the 150,000-mile range. The district has one 2001 bus under 93,000 miles and a 2006 bus with 44,000 miles.
Also on the list are five cargo vans, two pickups, and a car. The car, an Impala, is nearly new, but all the other vehicles range from1999 to 2006 models. Four have over 100,000 miles.
“It’s an aging fleet and if we don’t act soon we will really fall behind,” Feldkamp said.
He asked the board to consider a lease-purchase option to acquire two buses to speed the rotation. He’s suggesting it in light of the low interest rates. The administration is pursuing bids.
In other business, Feldkamp addressed problems with organizations reserving the gymnasiums.
There are several leagues all wanting to use the gyms and apparently conflicts arose this fall.
“It caused some hard feelings, but my job is to make it better,” Feldkamp said.
Next fall it will be done differently, he said.
“I will get all the parties in my office and get everyone on the same page,” he said.
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