FARMINGTON — An increase in enrollment and additional state funds are behind a more than $6 million increase in the Farmington Municipal School District's budget for the upcoming school year.
The district's board of education on Thursday approved a proposed $79.23 million budget for the 2014-2015 school year. The budget includes about $6.13 million more than this school year's budget of $73.1 million.
Assistant Superintendent of Finance Randy Bondow said an enrollment increase of 237 students, along with increases in funding from the state's Public Education Department, will fund a 5 percent salary increase for district employees and pay to hire additional staff.
"I think it's a step in the right direction," Bondow said. "I think it's the ability to give a decent raise after five years to the employees. The prior four (years) had no raise or the raise we were giving was just covering insurance and pension increases."
Proposed revenue for the upcoming school year is about $75.86 million, leaving a $3.37 million deficit that will be covered by the district's cash fund balance.
The district expects to receive $74.59 million this upcoming school year from the state, an increase of $4.64 million from the current school year's amount of $69.95 million.
The state mandated a 3 percent salary increase for district staff and a 6 percent raise for educational assistants. The district opted to add another 2 percent salary increase for all district staff, with the exception of educational assistants.
Sponsors and coaches can expect their compensations for leading the district's athletics and activities programs to increase by 3 percent, said Superintendent Janel Ryan. This is the first raise for the district's coaches and sponsors in 10 years, Ryan said.
All of the salary increases are expected to cost the district about $2.95 million, with projected staffing increases costing about $1.21 million.
Bondow said 17 teachers could be hired throughout the district to reduce class sizes and deal with overcrowded classrooms. The teachers will be added as district officials assess next year's enrollment.
During Thursday's board work session, Ryan said one of the budget priorities is to hire lead teachers at Animas, Country Club and McCormick elementary schools. The district's other seven elementary schools already have lead teachers to assist the principal and teachers.
Ryan also said a business teacher will be added at Piedra Vista High School and a vocational teacher will be hired at Farmington High School.
Other staffing needs listed in the upcoming budget include a band teacher at both Farmington and Piedra Vista high schools, a drama teacher at PV and additional counselors at both high schools.
Overall, Bondow said he believes the district's financial health is in a good spot.
"I think it's very healthy with this additional funding, plus our cash balance," he said. "We are sitting pretty good for this year and next year."