District does budget balancing act

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The 2011-2012 budget is due to the state May 25.

By Jennifer Garcia

The clock is ticking for Los Alamos Public Schools. The budget is due to the state on May 25 and with help from Los Alamos County, it looks like the district might just be able to trim approximately $600,000 from its budget.

During Tuesday’s meeting at Pajarito Cliffs Site, the school board reviewed and approved the budget with a 5-0 vote.

Though the county cannot give the school district money because it’s against the law, it has been able to help alleviate some of the financial burden on the schools by picking up the cost of two warehouse employees that the county and schools share. In addition, the county will fund the cost of one school resource officer and they will also reduce by $44,000 a year the fees charged for the use of the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center.

Despite that assistance from the county, LAPS had to tighten its belt for the upcoming year and make cuts to certain programs. The reductions include:
• 10 percent cut in supplies ($46,000)
• Professional development ($29,950)
• Library technical services ($42,000)
• Mental health vouchers ($17,000)
• Subscriptions ($3,500)
• Instructional coach ($66,000)
Middle school
• Cafeteria ($35,000)
• Educational technologist ($33,000)
Student services
• Contingency fund ($15,400)
• Reallocation of secretary to human services (no savings)
Curriculum assessment
• Primary grade (K-1) MAP testing ($8,300)
• State reductions in testing requirements ($29,400)
• Reduction in curriculum coordinator/one position reassigned ($12,000)
Superintendent’s office/school board
• PAC 8 ($2,000)
• Memberships/training/travel ($10,000)
• Lobbyist ($11,500)
• Assistant superintendent supplies and other miscellaneous expenses ($4,100)
Business office
• KRONOS everywhere but maintenance ($4,850)
• AESOP at elementary level ($4,000)
There will be no additional cuts to athletics/activities, technology, transportation and human resources, except for those listed as being district-wide.

One of the cuts most questioned was the lobbyist position. Board Vice President Kevin Honnell pointed out that board member Thelma Hahn had brought up the value of having a lobbyist.

LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt agreed with the importance of the position, and said that a conversation with the county will take place, during which the district will inquire to see if the county could help share the costs of the lobbyist.

“We need to rethink our relationship with Washington, D.C.,” he said. “The lobbyist has great merit.”
Also, in an effort to help balance the budget Schmidt said the board is being asked to continue generating $900,000 through various lease programs for the schools.

“The meeting on the 19th is when the rubber hits the road and you all need to come to a consensus,” said School Board President Melanie McKinley, before the board voted.

The final budget approval and end of year budget adjustments requests will be handled during a meeting at 5:30 p.m. May 19 in the Pajarito Cliffs Conference Room.