The Minot Public School Board gave final approval Thursday evening to a 2012-2013 school budget that will include a deficit of about $1.95 million and will increase property taxes by 6.08 mills.
According to business manager Scott Moum, the total revenue received by the school district is estimated at $77.65 million, with total expenditures at $79.6 million. The deficit is $1.95 million. The budget is about 4.8 percent higher than last year. Wages and benefits make up about 80 percent of the total budget.
The district had negotiated a two-year contract with employees immediately prior to last year's flood that included a 5 percent increase in salary and benefits during each year of the contract. Total estimated mills levied would be about 141.27 mills, compared with 135.19 mills in 2011-2012.
The tax increase will cost the owner of a $200,000 home in Minot an additional $54.72 in school property taxes.
During a public comment period on the budget, citizen and former school board candidate Scott Williams expressed some concern over the costs of educating students in the district and the $1.5 million paid for purchase of land in northwest Minot to build the new Erik Ramstad Middle School. Citizen Daryl Somerville also spoke during the public comment period and spoke about the district's need for new schools at a time of booming school enrollment. New school construction is needed if Minot is to continue to maintain its reputation for excellent schools, which is a draw for new people coming to the community, said Somerville, who hopes voters in the district will approve a new bond issue as voters in Bismarck recently did.
Board vice president Roger Kluck commented that mills would have gone down if the district had not been forced to take out bonds to address the district's ongoing flood recovery and he thinks the district has done a good job of managing funding in difficult times. The cost of living in Minot has probably gone up about 300 percent, said Kluck, and salaries have not increased to keep up.
Supt. Mark Vollmer said enrollment stood at 7,152 on the last day of September, up about 249 students from one year ago. New students continue to enroll each day. All of the district's portable classrooms are in use and some schools, such as Roosevelt Elementary, don't have room on the grounds to put any more portables. School officials are carefully monitoring class sizes.