The Beatrice Public Schools Board of Education is preparing its budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

The School Board discussed the proposed $30 million budget during Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting.

The budget reflects a $788,000 increase from last year

John Brazell, Beatrice Public Schools director of business affairs, lead the discussion regarding the budget, which includes a decrease in state aid.

“State aid makes up about 18 percent of our revenue and about 22 percent of the general fund,” he said. “Our state aid for 2017-18 will drop $447,547…Our needs have been going down because of declining enrollment and our resources have been going up because of property values.”

Brazell said these two factors are what determine how much state aid schools receive.

The anticipated amount of state aid is a 7.88 percent reduction.

He added that overall, the proposed budget is more aggressive for the fiscal year.

“Due to the current economic situation, Beatrice Public Schools revenue projections are more aggressive and less conservative than in the past,” he said.

Brazell said school administration also takes a close look at changing trends when it puts the budget together and in anticipation of future changes to come.

He used the number of students receiving free and reduced-cost lunches as an example that’s changed over the years.

“I think we have to mention our changing demographics,” he said. “The increase in free and reduced lunch rate has moved from 37 percent in 2010 to over 50 percent this year. Our elementaries are all over 50. Paddock Lane was over 62. That will change this year with the preschool moving out to Cedar. We’re still all over 50 percent.”

According to the budget, the tax rate millage has been reduced in recent years due to the high school being paid off. General fund and special building fund taxes have been relatively stable near the maximum allowable rate of 1.05, and the budget calls for a rate of 1.087157 for this fiscal year.

Brazell said the budget was carefully put together and is expected to be approved at the School Board’s next meeting on Monday, Sept. 11.

“This is not done willy-nilly,” he said. “We do look at goals for the district and how our budget can help those and work through that…We’re not leaving schooling to chance.”

Reach Scott Koperski at scott.koperski@beatricedailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottKoperski.

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