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Hazelwood School District Tackles Budget Shortfalls

The board also discussed progress on Proposition H projects and proclaimed October Disability History and Awareness month, during back-to-back meetings two consecutive weeks in a row.

The  Board of Education has had a busy two weeks. At meetings Sept. 30 and Tuesday, the board discussed many topics, of which school funding may top the list.

Dwight Lindhorst, HSD's assistant superintendent of finance and facilities, gave a presentation at the Sept. 30 meeting on the district's proposed tax levy rate.

Running the numbers

The proposed levy would collect at a rate of $6.2825 for the 2011-12 calendar year, which is a .0014-cent increase from the 2010-11 calendar year. Essentially, the district is facing a potential $3.6 million budget deficit, Lindhorst said.

In the past, he attributed the shortfall to the decline in property tax collected on assessed valuation in the struggling economy.

"As you know, I budget conservatively," he said. "I always look for things we can delay or just hold off on."

Lindhorst also said the district would release an amended budget in November.

Following the presentation, there was a public hearing on the tax levy rate. The board certified the rate as there was no public comment.

Proposition H progress

At Tuesday's board of education meeting, HSD Superintendent Steve Price gave an update on Proposition H projects.

"I'm happy to say that elevator construction is on the rise at nine Hazelwood elementary schools as Proposition H work continues," he said. "Construction should be finished by winter break. Of course, that is depending on the weather."

At its Sept. 6 meeting, the board approved construction bids  for the elevator additions at , , , , ,  and  elementary schools. The schools were separated into two bid requests. Both bid awards went to Wright Construction Services.

October proclamations

The board also approved a proclamation certifying October as Disability History and Awareness month.

In May, the Missouri Legislature passed House Bill 555, which authorizes school boards to designate the month as such. Julia Thorpe, assistant superintendent of student services, said the program helps to build tolerance and understanding.

"The goals of the disability history and awareness instruction include instilling in students sensitivity for fellow students with disabilities and encouraging educational cultures that nurture safe and inclusive environments for students with disabilities in which bullying is discouraged and respect and appreciation for student with disabilities is encouraged," she said. "We are all more alike than different, and regardless of disability, every citizen is afforded the same rights and responsibilities as that of any other."

In other news, the HSD Board of Education:

  • Approved a contract for the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis Anti Bullying Program. Last year, in an effort to prevent bullying, HSD signed a contract with Shakespeare Festival Saint Louis to provide students performance assemblies and workshops on bullying. The contract includes performances for high school and middle school students. This is paid for by the district's Safe Schools, Healthy Students grant.
  • Approved a contract to provide homebound services. When students cannot come to school (broken leg, etc.), HSD theSpecial School District of St. Louis County will deliver home deliver classwork and assignments. 
  • Approved schematic design for an elevator additions at East Early Childhood. This is also a Proposition H project. This portion of the bond money will provide elevators in two-story buildings, thus bringing the buildings into compliance with ADA.

The board also approved the schematic design of HSD Learning Center Modifications.

Diana Gulotta, assistant superintendent for communications, said the center has experienced some issues related to the volume of noise in the building and confidentiality.

Therefore, the district will add doors to the building break room/kitchen area and add a wall to the superintendent secretary area.

"A big part of the building is comprised of wide open office space, separated by cubicle walls," she said. "We have noticed that sound from one part of the building quickly travels to another part of the building, negatively impacting productivity and possibly compromising confidentiality."

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