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Sun, Feb. 16

HUSD preparing for possible budget shortfall

PRESCOTT - The Humboldt Unified School District may be tightening its belt next year, but Superintendent Dr. Henry Schmitt assured the governing board Tuesday evening the district will not "decline in the quality of education."

Referring to Finance Director Cynthia Windham's report, Schmitt said the district anticipates a $451,258 shortfall in the 2008-09 budget.

District officials plan to hold expenditures at the 2007-08 level of $33,089,302. Schmitt said rising fuel costs could add $70,000 to that amount.

The superintendent said recent information from the state indicates a possible loss of Building Renewal money next year, which could amount to a $300,000 loss for HUSD.

Schmitt said this would force district officials to divert more than $200,000 in Maintenance and Operations money to cover required maintenance and capital needs.

Schmitt projected next year's total expenses at $33,352,302, and revenues at $32,908,017.

Declining student enrollment further reduces the revenue prediction because the district receives about $4,000 for each student.

Human Resources Director Phil Young said the district's Average Daily Membership grew steadily from 2003 through 2006. This year, however, the ADM dropped 45 students.

Young explained the difference between Average Daily Enrollment and ADM.

He said the ADE counts the students enrolled in the district while the ADM is "based on actual attendance. It is a daily count."

Young said student population at HUSD for the week ending Feb. 8 was 6,336 students. However, if all the students enrolled during the 2006-07 school year stayed in the district, the population would be 6,641 students.

Young said the inability of the district to retain students as they pass from grade to grade is "cause for concern. We have to be aware that enrollment is declining."

Young said during the first 100 days of this school year, 97 students withdrew to private, charter or home schools; 289 students moved out of the area; and 60 students withdrew for poor performance, lack of attendance or disciplinary reasons.

Schmitt said the district has retention/recruitment plans in place.

Governing board member Howard Moody asked if "cohort movement at the high school is a problem," referring to students who leave the district between grade levels instead of staying at their school.

Young said the high school is unique because students must earn credits to graduate. He said if students lose credits they tend to withdraw from school.

Governing board member Gary Marks said that to improve retention, students and parents must change their thinking to "'my school' instead of 'the school.' They have to have pride and ownership in their school."

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