BOE Estimates $58.7M for School Year

OHIO COUNTY – The Ohio County Board of Education learned during a special Friday meeting that the school district’s 2012-13 expenses are estimated at $58.7 million, up from the $57.4 million fiscal 2011-12 budget.

Also during the meeting, board members James Jorden, Gary Kestner, Sarah Koegler, Christine Carder and Shane Mallett went into a closed-door session for nearly 45 minutes with Superintendent Dianna Vargo and other administrators to discuss a property matter. No formal action was taken, according to board members.

Meanwhile, the proposed spending budget presented to the board includes $42.6 million for salaries and benefits, or 72.6 percent of total expenditures.

Another $1.9 million will be spent for food, milk and child nutrition supplies. The remaining $14.2 million in expenditures will go toward utilities, insurance and fees, operations and maintenance among other items and services.

Revenue for fiscal 2012-13 includes $19.9 million from Ohio County property taxes and $29.7 million from state aid, as well as additional funds for special education and Title I programs that will total about $60 million.

Another funding source, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, is set to expire this year and will no longer provide funds for education.

Vargo said the board received $1.1 million last week from refinancing a bond in 2011 and that those funds are available to be used for capital projects. According to Vargo, Ohio County Schools has the lowest operating excess levy rate in the Northern Panhandle.

“There should not be significant changes accounting-wise,” said Steven Bieniek, business manager for Ohio County Schools. “Last year we had a little to maneuver, so we’re right on par. We manage our finances pretty well that we’ve been able to keep the tax rate lower than any other lower counties.”

Board president Jorden said the board strives to closely manage the budget.

“As board members, we’re stewards of taxpayers’ dollars. We have a $58.7 million budget, and it’s important that the board members have a working knowledge of it,” Jorden said. “It’s important that we spend those school funds efficiently and effectively on behalf of the taxpayers. They rely on us to do that, to provide the services for our students.”

The Ohio County Board of Education will hold its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at Triadelphia Middle School, where Bieniek will report the carryover funds for the year.