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Funding for government lapses as short-term spending bill stalls in the Senate

Benson Public Schools to enact maximum levy amount allowed

BENSON -- Benson Public Schools will enact the maximum levy amount allowed by the state in 2009.

Superintendent Lee Westrum said Tuesday the School Board approved a preliminary levy worth $1,128,000 during Monday's board meeting. The new levy, he said, is about a 10 percent increase from 2008.

"Nothing really went up for us," Westrum said in a phone interview. " ... But the state continues to decrease their portion of the formula.

"The piece, the local levy portion, keeps going up right now and the state's portion goes down."

The district will make final approval of its levy in December.

Westrum said although the district's voter-approved levy is the same and so is the district's bond debt, the state keeps decreasing its funding.

The district is in the second year of its five-year operating levy, Westrum said. He said he doesn't expect the district to ask for a new levy until its expiration in fall of 2011.

Also at Monday's meeting, the board revised the district's 2007-08 adopted budget. Westrum said the revision "reflected some expenditure changes" the district endured in the previous school year.

Westrum said the district's initial adopted budget for 2007-08 included a $54,300 surplus. The revised budget, he said, includes a $144,800 deficit.

"Earlier this spring, we thought that might be worse," Westrum said. "But it's still significant, obviously. It's $200,000 different but it's not quite as bad as we thought it might be."

Both board moves come after recent dismal budget projections for the district's 2008-09 school year.

In June, the board approved a 2008-09 district budget that included a $361,500 deficit. The district will cover the loss by dipping into its $2,093,000 of general fund reserves.