'Major cuts' to Riverton school budget; salaries frozen

Jul 19, 2013 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

The Riverton school board held its annual budget and mill-levy hearings and proceeded to adopt a $36.3 million budget at its meeting Wednesday night in Riverton. No public comment was received at the budget hearing.

In addition, the board voted to assess district property owners one-half mill for the Fremont County Board of Cooperative Education Services, one-fourth mill for the Northwest BOCES, one mill for the Fremont County School District No. 25 Recreation District and 25 mills for local support.

"It's about a .5-percent increase (about $185,00) from last year, but pretty much flat. As you are aware, we had to make some serious cuts to try to get this budget to balance," district business manager Mike Collins told the board.

Collins said that $2 million has been added to the capitol construction budget for projects that could happen next year if appropriate legislation passes.

Collins added that the 2013-14 budget does not allow for staff salary increases except for horizontal movement, which is designed to reward and reimburse teaching staff who get additional education. Riverton superintendent Terry Snyder said that the allowed horizontal movement is the only exception to the salary freeze and will cost the district about $12,000.

Snyder said the administration was presenting a very conservative budget to the board.

"As you know, we had the objectives of having a balanced budget, not reducing staff and be able to provide funding for instructional materials. There were some tough decisions that went into this budget. When you freeze salary for all your employees, that is not an easy thing to do," Snyder said.

"I hope that the staff and community understand that it makes it hard to operate and move forward when you don't have those cost of living adjustments."

Both Snyder and Collins noted that most district staff will receive a one-time 1-percent bonus in October as allocated by the Wyoming Legislature for retention of current staff, but added that money will be essentially be off-set from requirements that district staff members pay an additional .25-percent toward their retirement this year and an additional .5-percent toward their retirement next year.

Although not reimbursed, the district has decided to extend the 1-percent bonus to staff that were hired this year.

"That's a variance to what the state legislation is," Snyder said.

Key Club Awards

Three members from Riverton High School's Key Club were recognized at Wednesday's meeting. Izzy Leyva, Bradley Branson and J.D. Manzanares, wearing green shirts that said, "Kids Against Hunger," displayed their national service project trophy.

Leyva is the lieutenant governor of the Rocky Mountain District, Branson is the president of the RHS Key Club, and Manzanares is the past governor of the Rocky Mountain District.

The group helped with the packaging more than 1.6 million meals for emergency relief while in Washington where they were received a single service award for their 26-hour service marathon. The group also received the Rocky Mountain district Diamond Level Club Award, the only club in the district to be so honored.

"The distinguished club award encompasses everything that we do. It is service hours, meetings, having guest speakers at our meetings and having social events at our meetings. It's saying all-around, our club does well," sponsor Claire Peart said.

Jeffries recognized

Board member Lynette Jeffries was presented a certificate from fellow board member Carl Manning. The award recognized her hours of education and board service.

"This is given to board members from the Wyoming School Board Association," Manning said.

Other action

In other action, the board:

approved an administrative recommendation relative to budget transfers;

approved variances to the 2012-2013 facilitator grant;

approved a recommendation that allows the superintendent authority to approve purchase orders, invoices and vouchers for summer construction projects;

approved an agreement for $2,604 with Tetra Tech. for and asbestos study analysis at Jackson Elementary School and for $3,819 for a similar project at Rendezvous Elementary School;

approved an agreement in the amount of $11,000 to $13,000 with James Gores & Associates for a site study for a new elementary school;

approved a proposal from Inberg-Miller Engineers in the amount of $9,100 for a preliminary sub-surface exploration services of two sites for the new elementary school;

approved a three-year lease to Williams Scotsman in the amount of $60,468.10 for a modular classroom unit to be placed at Rendezvous Elementary School and approved on first reading revisions to board policy for the administering of medication and the accompanying administrative procedures.

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