School boards approve district budgets

Post Falls OKs late start Mondays; Lakeland to float levy in August

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Post Falls students will start school Mondays 25 minutes later starting in the fall.

Lakeland Joint School District voters, meanwhile, will consider another plant facility levy in August.

School boards for both districts approved the proposals on Monday night while also approving fiscal 2013 budgets that have no new programs and less instructional staff than the current year.

Post Falls' "late start Mondays" plan aimed at giving staff a more consistent time for teacher training and collaboration to meet new standards will be on a one-year pilot basis and will be implemented at all schools.

Feedback from parents on the proposal was mixed with family schedules being the biggest concern, but the plan includes the district providing free before-school child care at elementary schools if families need it.

The plan includes adding two instructional days to next school year to make up for the lost classroom time on Monday mornings. Overall instructional time with students will not be reduced.

The Post Falls board also approved a general fund budget of $27.9 million, which is $200,000 more than the current year. The increase is due to the district's enrollment hike of about 75.

No capital projects are planned and health and dental insurance costs have increased 21 percent, preventing base salaries from being raised for the fourth straight year. No new bus replacement purchases are planned.

The district is receiving $3.6 million less from the state than three years ago.

"We've taken every single line item (in the budget) and squeezed it as hard as we can," said Sid Armstrong, the district's finance director. "It's been tough to put a budget together."

During the meeting, Post Falls resident Barry Rubin asked how Post Falls spending about 85 percent of its general fund money on salaries and benefits compared to other districts. Armstrong said it's comparable, has hovered near that percentage for several years and is dictated by funding formulas.

The Lakeland board approved a five-year plant facility levy for Aug. 28 of $800,000 per year for five years to help fund building repairs, equipment, buses and classroom furniture. The proposal needs 55 percent approval to pass.

Voters in March turned down a plant facility levy of $905,000 per year for 10 years. The proposal obtained 53 percent approval, falling short of the 55 percent needed.

While at the polls, voters approved a supplemental levy of $4.95 million per year for two years that supports maintenance and operations of the district.

The board also finalized the district's contract with the teacher union.

The contract funds experience and education steps, but has no change in base salaries for the fourth straight year. Teachers who won't see an increase as a result of the steps will be given either a $360 or $480 per year increase, depending on where they are on the salary schedule.

A 2.55 percent increase in medical premiums and a 3.1 percent decrease in dental rates are planned.

Ninety-six percent of the voting members of teacher union last week voted to reject the contract after a tentative agreement had been reached between the union's negotiators and district administration. The majority of the voting members cited that they disagree with both the district and state's approach to funding.

The board also approved a budget of $23.8 million budget for fiscal 2013.

Lakeland's full-time instructional staff will be reduced by six through attrition.

The district will receive 15.5 percent ($3.4 million) less in state support next year compared to 2008-09.

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