NEW BUFFALO — The good news about the amended budget is that there is no news.

That was the underlying message from New Buffalo Area Schools Business Manager Pano Arvanitis during the Monday, Jan. 27, board of education meeting.

“The good news is that we are healthy. We are vigilant in watching expenses as we move forward on several projects,” Arvanitis said.

He presented a view of the amended 2019-20 budget showing total revenues of $16.1 million, versus the $15.8 million originally budgeted, and expenses of $16.7 million, versus $16.5 million budgeted.

The fund balance as of June 30 was $4.1 million versus the anticipated $3.4 million.

Arvanitis noted there was a slight 1.8 percent increase in the county’s taxable valuation resulting in the additional revenues.

The amended operating revenue totaled $14.5 million, with 86 percent of this coming from the 18 mills of local taxes. This millage is up for renewal on Tuesday, March 10, when voters will be asked to renew the 18 mills on non-homestead property for another five years.

Arvanitis also noted that funds from the Local Revenue Sharing Board, this year about $1.5 million, are removed from the operating fund and dedicated primarily to the Bison Educational Trust Fund, a decision made by the district when the fund was established in 1998. Arvanitis explained that this decision was made in part with the goal of eventually making the trust self-funding.  

Graduates of New Buffalo High School are eligible for Trust Fund payments totaling up to $25,000 over ten years. The trust’s balance as of June 30 was slightly over $5 million, with $850,000 budgeted for payments to recipients this year.

At the recommendation of Superintendent Jeff Leslie, the board approved hiring Skillman Corporation for construction management services at $440,000 for the elementary school security upgrades, the new STEAM facility and adjacent recreational facilities.

“It’s a lot of money but after going through the building of this school I vowed I’d never get involved in a building project again without hiring construction managers. They are well worth the money,” said Board President Chuck Heit.

After the second reading, the board approved the revised policies:  No.1420 - School Administrator Evaluation; No. 2265 - Child Care Center Staff and Volunteers; No. 2450 - Community and Adult Education; No. 2628 - State Aid Incentives; No. 3210 - Staff Ethics; No. 3220 - Professional Staff Evaluation; No. 5230 - Late Arrival and Early Dismissal; No. 5330.02 - Opioid Antagonists; No. 6800 - System of Accounting; No. 7300; No. Disposition of Real Property; No. 7440.03 - Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems; No. 8400 - School Safety Information, and No. 8462 - Student Abuse and Neglect.

The board also: approved the National School Breakfast Week Proclamation of March 2-6; cancelled the regularly scheduled meetings on Feb. 24 and March 9 and scheduled a combined meeting for Monday, March 2.   

Leslie reminded the board that there will be a free performance of the off-Broadway production of “School House Rock Live” on Sunday, Feb. 9, at 2 p.m.

The meeting began with a moment of silence in memory of Pamela Oselka who was a Board of Education member for 20 years. She passed away unexpectedly from complications of a stroke on Jan. 24, 2020 (her obituary appears in the Obituaries section of this website).

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