As of Tuesday, April 10, 2018
KAMIAH Kamiah Joint School District 304 Superintendent Steve Higgins knows the old parable is true: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
“I am not counting on any extra money until I see it,” he said.
Though SRS (Secure Rural Schools) funds were reauthorized by President Trump March 23 – which will mean about $200,000-plus to KSD 304 this school year – Higgins said this will not affect the Kamiah levy passed March 13.
For the first time in years, Kamiah voters said yes to a $500,000 supplemental levy. Fifty-seven percent of voters voted yes for the school levy.
“We have been running at a deficit for a while and already had a projected $400,000 loss for the end of this fiscal year,” Higgins said. He said the district has run in the red for the past two to three years, but previously had enough in reserve to make the difference.
The levy money was requested for “very specific” purposes, he adds, which includes updating outdated curriculum and working through some maintenance issues.
“If we get what the state and feds say we will, then those SRS funds will basically help pay off the deficit for the 2017-18 school year,” Higgins added. “We aren’t going to end up with extra money; we will be able to balance the books, pay the bills.”
Higgins said the reauthorization of SRS was a “complete surprise” to him.
“I definitely was not expecting it, and I’m definitely not expecting this each year,” he said. “We cannot count on this money in the budgeting process. It is not a long-term fix.”
Higgins said Kamiah is operating on “no reserves.”
“I just don’t see how the district can maintain status quo without long-term changes in state and federal funding,” he said.
He wanted to make clear the levy was still a need even if the district had known the SRS funds were coming in. He also thanked the community for its foresight in passing the levy.
“That money is earmarked for specific projects that are needed, and that’s what it will be used for,” he said.
In an effort to save money and best suit the needs of the community, the Kamiah school board trustees voted at their July 2017 meeting 3-2 in favor of going to a four-day week in the 2018-19 school year. That decision is in the process of begin implemented for the coming year.