, 2015

Supervisors approve
$15.8 million school
budget by category

by Audrey Thomasson

LANCASTER—It took supervisors just minutes to throw their unanimous support behind school officials’ request for a budget increase that will be used to extend the school year by two weeks in the fiscal year beginning July 1. The vote was 5-0 in last week’s special meeting on the school budget.

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District 3 supervisor Jason Bellows made the motion to approve and appropriate a request for $15,804,328, an increase of $385,210. The motion allocated the budget by category: $11,698,308 for instruction and technology; $700,203 for administration and health; $1,204,038 for transportation; $1,497,785 for operations and maintenance; $87,395 for debt service; and $616,600 for food service.

“This has been a really great budget cycle,” Bellows said. He thanked acting superintendent Sandy Spears for her hard work in drafting the budget.

“It’s the best I’ve seen,” said District 2 superintendent Ernest Palin.

Both Palin and Bellows work for the school district as primary school principal and high school teacher, respectively. Each read a prepared statement prior to the vote, stating they have no financial gain in voting on the budget as “...one of a group of 230 employees affected by the school board budget.”

“It’s a new day—a new time in the life of the schools,” said District 4 supervisor William Lee before casting his vote.

During the May 13 public hearing, Spears and school board chairman Dr. Robert Westbrook defended the proposed increase and extended school year as critical to the district’s work in earning full accreditation. Westbrook said they had a late start on the budget planning process, since nothing had taken place when they took their positions in January.

Westbrook noted the pending arrival July 1 of “our new superintendent, Steven Parker. That man knows it’s going to take years,” to turn the schools around, he said.

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