DuBois Area School Board wrestles with budget, sets May 29 for graduation by Glenn Schuckers

The DuBois Area School District school board held its regular meeting on Thursday, April 23, but as in the past month the members were not physically present but met via. Zoom. With seven of the nine members present the Board continued to conduct the business of the District.

Business manager Jeanette Buriak presented the initial report on the 2020-2021 budget. With some 43% of the total revenues coming from local sources, Buriak said she anticipates those local revenues to be reduced. Although the income from real estate taxes will be mostly unchanged, with assessments in Clearfield and Jefferson Counties 2% lower, District revenues from earned income tax may be lower due to higher unemployment in the area. The other area that will likely see a reduction will be from revenue the District receives from its investments which, due to a significantly lower stock market, will also be reduced.

The other areas of income remain largely unknown at this time. The District gets a little over one-half of its revenue from state funding, both through basic education funding and the transportation subsidy, and the amount  of those funds is unknown.

As to expenditures, the business manager said the new budget expects District expenditures to be as low as possible. 57% of those expenses come from instruction and that figure has been reduced by 1.1%.

About 2.1% of the current budget will remain unspent and that will be applied to the 20-21 budget. That comes from reduced fuel costs and lower utility costs since the schools are no longer open and students are  not being transported.

In summary,  for 2020 -2021, the District should have some $58,660,243 in revenue and $62,950,000 in expenses leaving some $3.4 million to be taken out of the reserve funds. The final budget will be presented at the Regular May meeting and the final vote to adopt will be in June.

A motion to allow a late budget item was approved and it was a motion to approve Builder’s Risk Insurance for the Wasson Elementary renovation project. The cost for the premium will be $16,000 and the motion was approved.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brigette Matson also gave a report on the status of the online learning that the school has been conducting. She said the online classes have been held for eighteen days with 90% of the total school population participating. The school has been providing between 700 and 800 breakfasts and lunches five days a week, and she pointed out the efforts by both the local Walmart store and Christ Lutheran Church in that program.

Matson also said that numerous scheduled award ceremonies such as both the Athletic and Academic Award ceremonies will be carried out, but they will be prerecorded instead of being held live. The same will hold true for the National Honor Award induction ceremony which will also be prerecorded, with the live induction of new members to be held in the fall.

Senior graduation is tentatively scheduled for May 29. Graduating seniors will be asked to come in prior to that to receive their diploma one at a time, with that presentation to be filmed. Caps and gowns for those seniors will be distributed when  they arrive and students and their families will be notified when they can pick them up.

Board member Sam Armagost said that he has contact with children in the Pittsburgh area who are now just starting to get the same kind of schooling that DuBois has been providing for the past month. He said it is a tribute to the parents, administration, faculty, and entire staff that they have been able to get out in front and they may be in the top 10 of schools in the state to provide this kind of learning.

Superintendent Wendy Benton had also announced earlier that work on the Wasson Elementary building project will begin on Monday, April 27, with contractors on site beginning May 4. The number of contractors will be limited and they will be required to follow state guidelines in regard to the COVID-19 epidemic. That work will continue through the summer and into the following school year.

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