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E. Helena trustees discuss budget, mail-in ballots

2011-02-15T00:45:00Z E. Helena trustees discuss budget, mail-in ballotsBy ALANA LISTOE Independent Record Helena Independent Record
February 15, 2011 12:45 am  • 

School officials in East Helena say if at all possible they won’t cut staff to balance the budget and instead will cut the textbook budget, trim the budget for professional development, legal fees and classroom supplies if necessary.

“We’ve got so many programs in place that are doing so much good,” Ron Whitmoyer told trustees at a board meeting Monday night.

Options to balance the budget were briefly discussed at the meeting while keeping in mind the goal of attaining proficiency, or better, in math by the 2013–2014 school year.

Whitmoyer said the district would like to keep the low teacher to student ratio, and programs such as art, music and physical education because it coincides with the strategic plan objectives. Whitmoyer would also like to continue the gifted and talented program for those students who excel in particular academic domains and continue to develop preschool and after school programs.

Whitmoyer didn’t bring a proposed budget because it’s unclear what legislators will decide this session. He is assuming there will be a decrease to the current $6.3 million budget for next school year.

Other considerations include employee contracts that are up for negotiations and health premiums are expected to increase.

“There is vitality in legislation, and I’m not quite there to tell you a lot about what is going on,” Whitmoyer said.

One option is to ask voters to approve an operational mill levy, and Chair Ann Marie Thompson said she’d like to know at the next meeting which direction the board wants to go.

“We don’t want to have to start cutting a little out of here and a little out of here,” Thompson said.

Whitmoyer said there were too many wild cards out at the moment but will bring more firm numbers to next month’s meeting scheduled for March 14 at Eastgate Elementary.

The board decided to hold a mail ballot election, which they’ve done in prior years.

It’s been noted that there’s been better participation, Thompson said.

Kim Aarstad, the district clerk, said voter turnout increased by 10 percent by using a mail ballot election.

Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or Alana.listoe@helenair.com

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