The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Sugarbeeter Shout Out


August 29, 2018

By Darin Hannum,

Chinook school superintendent

As Chinook Public Schools gears up for the 2018-19 school year, there are several topics I would like to address with everyone: enrollment numbers and fall activities, new activity bus, weight room, and out of district students.

Enrollment and Fall Activities

We have had an excellent start to the school year. Chinook High School enrollment is 115 students, Chinook Junior High has 53, and Meadowlark Elementary has roughly 200 students. With the numbers at the elementary we have several classes that are at or near the state mandated limit. A quick reminder that the annual Chinook Volleyball Tournament is August 31st and September 1st. We will also travel to Cascade for our second night of football games.

Activity Bus

On August 27th the first of our new activity buses, a 24-passenger Goshen Bus with a Ford motor and chassis, was delivered. We have looked to purchase more reliable and less costly units for our fleet. Further, we are trying to match our fleet with the size of teams and activities we currently send on trips.

When funding the purchases of new buses, a common question is how we can afford new buses when we have to run levies to maintain our current budget for the school staff, building maintenance, and curriculum. The answer to that question is the bus depreciation fund. School budgets are very specific about where taxes dollars are levied and how they are spent. Any funds generated in the bus depreciation account can only be used to purchase new buses (we must keep our fleet the same size with the fund), do major maintenance, or purchase cameras and safety equipment. With the purchase of new buses, we ensure the local taxes are only used for local expenditures. Additionally, there is a fear that the state will reallocate funding from any of our budgeted accounts that exceed the 10 percent budget reserve limit.

Weight Room

As many of you remember, we are working on changing the gym use policies and fees for the weight room for individuals (groups are different). When we complete our key fobs in the elementary, we will send notices to folks letting them know that fees will be $10 a month to access both the elementary and high school facilities. The finances collected from these fees allows us to acquire and maintain our weight room and exercise equipment. We are also requiring a photo ID and proof of residency (like a power bill). This fee schedule will go in effect when a person’s current account runs out.

Out of District Students

We have been hearing some comments on our out of district student policy. Our formal district policy states that we accept out of district students if we are not required to hire an additional aide or teacher. With our current class sizes we are at that limit. At this time in our general fund budget we are at the limit of hiring staff. Our general fund reserves do not contain enough extra money to pay the insurance of an extra staff member, let alone a salary. We are making sure that Elementary students coming into our district are residents of our district. We don’t receive tax revenue from students enrolled in our district that reside outside of our district. Our elementary classes are at their limit per classroom. More students in the classes mean we have to hire additional staff which is gladly done when it’s for students residing in our district. Otherwise, it costs Blaine County residents more money as we have to add additional staff or cut programs to fund the additional teachers necessary to provide our children with a quality education.

Here is a quick look at the number side of students versus teacher cost. Each student provides roughly 5500-6500 of revenue dependent on age and accomodations. A first year teacher costs roughly $50,000 with salary, payroll taxes, and insurance. A first year teachers aide costs roughly $32,000 with the same costs. One student over classroom sizes puts us in a financial struggle.

We welcome new students to our district as we feel we provide a quality education with highly qualified staff in a positive learning environment. Our students that reside in our community are the top priority and we will continue to strive to provide the best education possible while striving to be fiscally responsible to our tax payers in our district. Any further questions regarding this policy, please contact Darin Hannum, School District #10 School Superintendent at 357-2236.


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