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Board passes 2009-10 budget

The Farmington School District is in much better financial shape than it was in 2006 but that doesn't mean passing the 2009-2010 budget was easy.

While most of the budget was cut and dry, at least one school board member had trouble with what to budget for the Other Post Employment Benefit Trust fund also know as OPEB.

The fund covers the cost of post-retirement health benefits that were included in previous contracts. The money in the fund can only be spent on insurance premiums.

After an initial motion had been seconded to pass the budget as presented, school board member Tim Burke made a second motion in hopes of reducing the amount of the OPEB expenditures by $79,000. His motion did not get seconded so it failed. The school board went on to pass the budget on a 5-1 vote.

Finance director Jeff Priess estimated OPEB premiums will cost the district around $333,000, however; he doesn't know what actual insurance costs will be. So the budget slates $412,000 for OPEB expenditures.

While his goal is to spend less than the $412,000, Priess said he felt it would be best to keep that number in the budget.

Burke disagreed saying he didn't feel the budget reflected the districts spending as accurately as it can. He added that the school board could come back and approve additional costs later if necessary.

The school board approved the sale of a OPEB bond in February. Until then, the cost of post employment benefits had been paid out of the district's general fund, which also pays for teacher and other staff salaries, supplies, energy and other day-to-day operations.

Priess said the ideal of the OPEB fund was to relieve the general fund of those expenditures.

According to a district news release although employee groups and district administrators have eliminated these benefits from current contracts, employees hired under old contracts are still eligible. The cost will continue to rise over the years to about $1 million in a little more than 10 years. The trust created is expected to cover OPEB costs for 13 years.

For the 09-10 school year the district estimates it will have a total revenue of a $83 million dollars. The school district expects it total expenditures to be $91 million.

9 a.m. start time

In other business kids attending Akin Road Elementary will get to sleep ten minutes later this year as the school board voted in favor of pushing the school's start time back to 9:10 a.m.

The revised start time will ease up demand on buses and save the district a couple hundred thousand dollars, Priess told the board before they voted.

Priess said the problem occurs during the afternoons and is caused by shorter days at the elementary schools. The district is finding it difficult to get enough busses off high school routes to arrive at Akin Road by 3:30 p.m.

To meet busing need with the current schedule he said the district would probably have to add six buses.The problem, he said will be solved without additional vehicles if current buses can arrive at the school at 3:40 p.m.

In November the school board approved revised start times for the high school and slotted Riverview Elementary for 8:30 a.m. The board also revised Meadowview Elementary, Farmington Elementary School and ARE times for 9:00 a.m.

The new 9:10 a.m. start time will only affect ARE.