With several large grants and additional revenue on the way for special-education services, the NET Charter High School is positioned to expand faculty and services in the coming school year.
Principal Elizabeth Ostberg presented a draft of next year’s budget to the school’s board, Educators for Quality Alternatives, at their monthly meeting in April. The budget offers an outline of anticipated expenses for next year and the three years beyond.
The NET expects to receive $200,000 from Harrah’s Casino over the next two years and $140,000 from the Walton Foundation.
Ostberg said she plans to use the money from Harrah’s to hire a part-time teacher to provide homebound services for students unable to attend school because of injury, pregnancy, incarceration and the like. The NET is an alternative high school with flexible year-round programming for at-risk students ages 16 to 21.
Ostberg said she also plans to add a full-time special-education teacher using money the school expects to receive based on its high number students with varying special needs.
In past budgeting, The NET projected special-ed enrollment of 12 percent, the state average. In fact, about 23 percent of students at The NET were determined to need special services this year, according to Ostberg. She said the school will increase its projection to 18 percent and budget accordingly. Moreover, the state is changing its policy on special-education allocations in ways that will yield more revenue for The NET, Ostberg said.
The draft budget for 2014-15 anticipates total revenue of $1,912,096.70 against projected expenses of $1,911,437. Revenue in the 2013-14 school year was $1,513, 211.
Ostberg is eager to use the grant money and increased revenue to provide better services for students and increased salaries and support for staff, but she also wants to hold funds in reserve.
“It puts us in a really good cash position, but I’d rather not spend all that money right now,” Ostberg said.
The NET had a $383,155 surplus in hand as of the end of March.
The board’s financial committee has been meeting weekly on Tuesday mornings to develop next year’s budget. The board will hold a public hearing on the budget May 20 at the school and has set a deadline of June 24 to approve the spending plan.
The budget is based on sustained enrollment of 150 students, Ostberg said. But attendance has been lagging, she advised. It stood at 57 percent in March, 62 percent in April.
“Testing was terrible for attendance, as was Mardi Gras,” Ostberg said.
Board president Kristina Kent discussed trainings for board members. In the past, The NET has held Saturday retreats to help board members get up to speed, but Kent said it would be more convenient to hold such sessions at the board’s monthly meetings.
Kent would invite professionals and experts to coach board members on finances, cultural competence, fundraising, standardized testing, and other school issues.
In attendance were Ostberg and board members Kent, Michelle Brown, Christopher Kaul, and Anna Koehl.
The board, which was reduced to six by the departure of board treasurer Will Kulick, continues to consider adding new members.
* Correction: Will Kulick remains on the board.