ACS holds budget workshop; no parents attend

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By Pauline Liu
Not even one parent from the Andes Central School District showed up for Thursday’s public hearing on the new budget. School district voters across the state are just days away from going to the polls to cast their ballots on their respective 2012-2013 budgets.  Andes voters will be asked to approve the new $3.64 million spending plan, which carries a 1.13 percent tax levy increase and complies with the  state’s adjusted two-percent property tax cap. The new budget is $29,000 less than the current one.

In her 34 years as ACS district treasurer, Jan Stevens, admitted it was a situation that’s never occurred before. “It’s the first time that no one showed up,” said Stevens. “It’s a good thing.” Likewise, members of the Andes Board of Education believe it’s a sign of approval and not apathy. “If they were unhappy, they’d be here and we’d have a full house,” said School Board Member Jeff Ashton. “The school isn’t going anywhere, it’s not going to cost them a lot and we’re right below the two percent tax levy,” agreed School Board Member Kelly Kilpatrick. 

No staff cuts
School Superintendent Dr. Robert Chakar explained there will be no staff reductions or program cuts in the new budget. Since he became superintendent more than three years ago, the district absorbed a few staff positions through attrition.  This year’s first and second grades were combined into one class of 10 students, who are being taught by one teacher.  “We’ve taken advantage of when positions become available,” he said. “We’ve been making concessions and staying tight.” Dr. Chakar also said that teacher’s salaries have remained flat.

In other news, the school board discussed upgrading the fire alarm system at no additional cost to taxpayers. The board also discussed plans to replace a five-year-old school bus in the fleet. “We were buying our buses in cash and keeping them 10 years, but we found that we saved the school money to bond the bus and trade them in after five years,” said School Board President John Hopkins. The medium size bus seats 35 passengers.

Built in 1937, ACS is preparing to graduate its 75th class of seniors on Friday, June 22 at 7 p.m. At the same time, the school will be celebrating its important anniversary. “This board has a lot to be proud of,” said Dr. Chakar. School Board Member Gerry Murphy feels they have been fiscally conservative without sacrificing quality education.  “Dr. Chaker’s motto is that excellence should not be a goal. It’s a standard,” said Murphy.

ACS has also made strides in enrollment this school year. It’s enrollment increased by a dozen students and is holding steady at 124. ACS taxpayers will be asked to vote on the new budget on Tuesday, May 15.