New Bloomfield school district hires budget consultant

NEW BLOOMFIELD — The R-3 School District on Thursday night hired a consultant to prepare next year’s school budget.

The board agreed to pay $10,000 to Jason Hoffman of JAMM Consulting LLC to perform the consulting work. The Jefferson City firm is headed by Hoffman, who also is the chief financial officer of the Jefferson City School District.

Interim Superintendent Thomas Baugh said Hoffman earlier had reviewed the New Bloomfield School District books and uncovered a funding source that means the district will have about a $100,000 reserve in its current budget.

Baugh said many small schools like New Bloomfield struggle with finances because most superintendents don’t have training in preparing budgets. He said larger school districts hire professionals to manage school finances and the budget.

He estimated the district can expect about $200,000 less state school aid next year.

The lack of federal stimulus money this year is part of the reason for less funding. Another reason is lagging state tax revenue, he said. Baugh said education officials have predicted that the state aid formula will receive between 86 percent and 88 percent of its funding.

Baugh said a loss of $200,000 in state funding for the New Bloomfield School District “is manageable but not pleasant.” Baugh noted the school board has voluntarily set the tax levy 5 cents below the legal maximum. He said the extra 5 cents would generate about $20,000 in revenue for the school district, but he recommended against the board raising the tax.

Other budget issues looming large are fuel costs and health insurance premiums.

“I have asked the administrative team to give me any ideas they might have for potential savings and efficiencies for the district,” Baugh said. He said the cost of substitute teachers is already $80,000 over the amount budgeted.

The board directed Baugh to come up with a solution. But he and other administrators said the biggest problem is hiring young mothers who have children. When the children of young teachers are sick, the teacher stays home. The teacher often catches the cold or flu of the youngster.

Baugh also warned that the issue of open enrollment also looms in the upcoming legislative session.

Some legislators want to allow students attending struggling school districts to transfer to neighboring districts. “Few legislators realize the ripples this could cause all Missouri schools. There have been no acceptable methods of requiring the revenues to follow those students,” Baugh said.

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