The new budget will include a modest property tax decrease and retain the school board strategy of renovating or replacing aging buildings.
The budget includes $32.3 million in expenditures in the general fund budget, $1.1 million in non K-12 programs, and $3.6 million in the capital outlay fund.
The assessed valuation of San Juan County properties increased by approximately $30 million in the past year. The growth is primarily in centrally-assessed properties.
While the state basic levy had not yet been determined at the board meeting, school district business director Clayton Holt estimated that the total property tax rate would drop by approximately 54 basis points.
The impact on a business valued at $250,000 would be approximately $13.50.
School board member Merri Shumway made a motion to double the basis point decrease, stating that local property owners would appreciate the decrease in property rates. The motion died for lack of a second.
The school board then approved a motion, by a 4-1 vote, to accept the certified rate, which keeps revenues the same after new growth is factored out.
Several residents of the Bluff area attended the school board meeting to advocate for their school. In recent years, the future of the Bluff School has been in question because the septic system at the school had failed several times, and there was no additional land for a new septic system at the school site.
Community members asked the board to consider building a new school at another location. Holt stated that the district has looked at properties on the west side of town that may be adequate for a new building and septic field.
Enrollment at the Bluff School has grown in recent years from a low of 59 in 2006 to more than 100 in the most recent school year.
After voters approved a voted leeway in 2006, the school district has completed a number of capital projects, including a new school in Monument Valley and extensive renovations at San Juan, Whitehorse, Monument Valley, and Monticello high schools.
A new elementary school in Monticello is scheduled to open in August.
The projects are funded partially through the voted leeway and have been completed with no debt.
The school district is currently considering the next strategy in the capital improvement plan.
The board has discussed two possible alternatives: 1) replace Blanding Elementary School first, and then move to other projects, or 2) renovate existing buildings first and then replace Blanding Elementary School in several years.
The first plan would immediately address needs at the largest school in the district, while the second plan would allow for several smaller projects throughout the district.
The district operates twelve schools in San Juan County.
Superintendent Douglas Wright was not in attendance at the abbreviated board meeting.