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Coupeville school budget set

A call for final public comment regarding the Coupeville School District budget at Monday’s board meeting was met with silence.

After several months of public forums, email exchanges and personal conversations with concerned parents, no one had any further comments or revisions to suggest.

The school board passed the 2003-04 school budget unanimously, and thanked everyone involved for their patience and perseverance.

Board member Don Sherman said the budget was “nothing flashy,” but felt it was a responsible compromise.

The approved budget was almost unchanged from the version presented to the public at a special meeting last week, cutting just over $350,000 to bring the $8 million budget in line.

Business Manager Nancy Conard said they were able to retain the middle school secretary, and set cocurricular athletic fees per sport at $30 for middle shool and $50 for high school. The next cut to be reversed would be the reinstatement of custodial staff. Two positions will be cut until then.

Schools Superintendent Bill Myhr felt he learned about a lot more than money from the budget process in his first year on the job.

“We are going to be addressing the long standing issues that came up during the process,” he said.

Concerns that arose included inequity between cocurricular sports and activities; the need for a high school soccer program; the need to protect academic programs and staff; and better accounting practices, especially in the area of cocurricular funds. Myhr said they will institute a line-item accounting system in this area.

Balancing the budget resulted in the loss of three paraeducator positions, one custodian, the elementary school librarian and three paid assistant coaches. In addition, cocurricular stipends were frozen and classified staff hours were reduced during non-student hours.

Still, it could have been worse, Myhr said.

“We were able to save some of the items that we thought we would lose,” he said.

While teacher salaries were frozen by the state, the district will be increasing support for health benefits by pitching in about $19 per month.

“We felt we needed to step up to the plate and show support,” Myhr said.

The budget brings the General Fund Balance to $201,000, about 2.5 percent. That’s better than it has been, but not where it should be, Myhr said. He would like to see it at 5 percent, but that might have to wait for better economic times.

You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at mmiller@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611

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