Budget talks were at the forefront of discussions during Wednesday’s School Board committee of the whole meeting.
BPS Superintendent Jason Alexander discussed the budget with the School Board and said a final version will need to be approved at the Sept. 10 meeting and sent to the state.
He said officials have worked to create a balanced budget while maintaining a focus on what’s best for students.
Other goals include building cash reserves, which have been diminished in recent years.
“We’re aspiring to maintain a board goal of four months of reserves by the end of 2018-19 school year,” Alexander said. “We’ve had to use some of our reserves. If we continue that we all know what happens. This budget is not a whole lot different than your own budget. It’s just on a much larger scale with some more intricacies involved.”
Another goal is to maximize state aid, which has been on a steady decline over the year.
Eight years ago the district received $8.3 million in state aid, compared to $5.1 million this year.
“You can see the constant decrease in state aid that is occurring,” Alexander said. “There’s some reasons for that. Everybody attributes it to student enrollment. That’s not the case. Student enrollment is a factor, but not the biggest factor in that. The biggest factor is your valuations.”
Alexander said the total levy request will be about $35,000 less than the previous year as the result of a bond being paid off.
He said that the district experienced budget growths of 2.5 percent in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. That was reduced to 1.5 percent increases this year and next year before plans call for a 2.5 percent increase in 2020-21.
Alexander the district is also keeping an eye on property valuations throughout southeast Nebraska and what’s happening at the legislature.
“The fourth goal is knowing that we are going to continue in our economic state across our agriculturally-based state of Nebraska to continue to prepare for property value adjustments or losses proposed in the 2018 legislative session,” he said. “We heard about them in the 2017 legislative session. I’m just throwing out a guess, but I bet we’ll hear about them in the 2019 legislative session as well.”