OGDEN -- The Weber School Board has given preliminary approval to next school year's budget, which includes raises for district employees, but does not cover capital improvements or new textbook adoptions.
"The district highlight for us is, after three years, giving employees a compensation packet above zero," said Robert Petersen, district business administrator. "A 3 percent base salary increase helps all our employees."
"The lowlight is that insurance costs have increased, and that cost has been transferred to employees that take the insurance, in an increased share of the premium and increased out-of-pocket costs."
Petersen said the top budget pressures faced by the Weber School District are:
* Capital building improvements
"We won't be replacing a lot of parking lots or roofs any time soon," Petersen said. "We will tighten our belts for another year, and do the bare minimum. You can't do that forever. That's a big concern."
* Textbook adoptions
Individual textbooks are replaced as they wear out or are lost, but adopting a full set of new, updated textbooks, is suggested on a seven-year cycle. Each year in the cycle, books in one study area, such as math or social studies, would be replaced with updated books.
"We've been on hold with textbook adoption three years in a row," Petersen said. "Some of our textbook adoptions are getting pretty old."
* The aging bus fleet
"Our fleet is one of the oldest in the state, and it's a tribute to our maintenance guys that they keep the buses running," Petersen said. "State and federal guidelines suggest you turn over a bus every 12 years, and we keep our buses for up to 20 years. They are not as efficient, but we keep our buses well maintained."
Petersen also noted that revenue from student fees is down, because with layoffs, more of the students' parents are unemployed. "Our fee waivers have risen dramatically over the last five years," he said.
Junior high and high school student fees are charged for textbook rental, sports and band participation, and classes including drafting, culinary arts, shop and drivers' education, among other things.
"In 2007, we waived $140,000, and in 2011, it was $303,000. When the economy went down, people lost jobs and applied for waivers, and got them. We don't expect an improvement any time soon, until the economy improves."
The Weber School Board will not vote on final approval of the 2011-2012 budget until learning updated property tax numbers, Petersen said. And even after that, the budget will have to be flexible to deal with cost fluctuations, including the federal mandate to add more fresh fruits and vegetables into menus at a time when suffering crops and increased fuel costs for transporters may increase prices.
The Weber School District meeting on Wednesday included a public hearing on the proposed budget, which did not draw any members of the general public or any public comment.