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Sterling School Board will take first look at budget

STERLING – School officials will present a preliminary 2014-15 fiscal year budget to the Sterling School Board at its meeting Wednesday.

The school board will also set a public hearing on the budget, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Sterling High School library.

"We are required to have a preliminary budget, and we will put it on display for 30 days in the district office," said Tad Everett, superintendent of the school district. "We will have a finalized budget later this fall."

The preliminary spending plan of $38.7 million includes an education fund of $29.5 million, or 76 percent of the budget.

The district expects to receive $9.3 million in state aid.

For the first time in 10 years, the proposed education fund is balanced. It pays for teacher salaries, books and supplies.

Everett said the school district spent the past 3 years cutting $2.8 million from the education fund. The fund has a surplus of $850, but the most important thing to Everett is it's balanced.

"We called it our education fund reduction plan," Everett said. "We finalized the 3-year plan June 30. We met our goal to balance our budget."

That plan was developed in 2012 to address a $1.8 million deficit in the education fund. The original plan was to cut $600,000 in each of the 3 years, but several factors threw that plan off course, Everett said.

Local equalized assessed valuation decreased in recent years, costing the district about $101,000. There also has been an almost $4 million loss in the employee benefit plan.

"We had a self-funded insurance plan, and in the last 5 years, we have lost $4 million," Everett said. "That is money out of our pocket. Our own insurance plan was weighing us down financially."

To fix that, school officials, teachers and support staff agreed to move from a self-insured health and dental employment benefit plan to a fully funded plan.

The board will vote on the final budget in September.

To attend

School officials will present their tentative budget for the 2014-15 school year at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Sterling High School library, 1608 Fourth Ave. The public is welcome to attend.

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