By Kevin Wilson

Portales school board approves 2021-22 budget


Last updated 5/11/2021 at 3:58pm

PORTALES — Following a 30-minute explanation of two months of compressed planning, and what it meant for the year ahead, the Portales school board on Monday approved its 2021-22 budget.

The budget, Finance Director Sarah Stubbs said, was largely similar to the prior year’s budget, with a rise in unit value just offsetting an enrollment drop of about 150 students.

The budget of $27.186 million is a 0.2% increase over last year’s $27.13 budget. Stubbs said key differences included a 1% increase to retirement, a 1.5% cost of living adjustment and a 6% increase in insurance premiums.

Stubbs said Portales gets hit harder by insurance increases because it has one of the youngest groups of teachers in the state, and their insurance needs tend to include spouses and young children. The increase in premiums to a teacher with a family of four is about $22 per pay period.

Despite the rise in insurance costs, employees will see increases in their take-home pay. For employees making at or near the minimum wage, raises were slightly higher to offset the medical premium increases.

“We’re in very, very good shape despite COVID,” Stubbs said.

Stubbs, in thanking her budget committee of teachers, principals, board members, central office employees and community members, noted the committee was working with a time crunch due to the economic uncertainty the pandemic created. The budget committee normally starts its work in January, but waited until April because too many details were up in the air.

In her opening statements, Stubbs reminded everybody a budget is simply a plan and not cash in the bank and as the last year has shown things can change quickly. The budget projects an ending cash balance of $2.284 million, slightly down from $2.393 million the prior two years.

The largest expense by far for the district — 87.35% — is salaries and benefits for its 391 fulltime staff.

Board member Randy Rankin, one of two board members who served on the budget committee, thanked Stubbs for the presentation, noting her 30-minute talk covered three days of information.

In other business at the board meeting:

• Katrina Prince updated the board on recent successes of the district’s Destination Imagination teams at the state awards ceremony April 12.

Three of the five teams, ranging from second grade to high school juniors, qualified for the global competition with first-place finishes.

Moving on are the junior high engineering challenge team of Thomas Villalobos, Heath Kaberlein, Cael Grawrock, Angelique Ennis and Adrienne Ruiz; and the sixth-grade technical challenge team of Roxanna Allamehzadeh, Maina Poyer and Kadence Morrison.

The secondary technical challenge team of Zoe Roy, Kassidy Galassini and Kami Sievers also qualified for the global competition but declined the invitation.

The global competition will be held virtually June 8-21.

• The district’s food services department was given the New Mexico School Boards Association Excellence for Student Achievement award.

Board members said the award is for an employee or employees who played a pivotal role in student success and considered the 2,000 meals a day served during a pandemic worthy of praise.

“When some of us were taking more flexible hours,” Board President Alan Garrett said, “you were showing up every day at the right time to make sure our kids could eat.”

• The board approved a variety of policy revisions, mainly to align with state standards. Superintendent Johnnie Cain noted the state recently included a mandate that schools could not discriminate against a student based on their hair, and Cain said that had been Portales policy for the last few years anyway.

• The next board meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. June 14 at the Portales Junior High cafeteria.


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