The Bismarck School Board approved a 2017-18 budget Monday night, in addition to discussing a draft timeline for proposed changes to growing and under-capacity elementary schools.

The board approved a $165.7 million budget, which includes an increase to the district's total mill levy from 100.47 mills to 103.90 mills, a 3.4 percent increase.

The district kept most of its mill levies flat for the 2017-18 school year, with the exception of the debt service mill levy, which increased due to a voter-approved bond issue this year.

Board Member Heide Delorme called the budget "a good balance," and reasonable for taxpayers.

The board also agreed to look into lower-than-expected projected student enrollment this year, with respect to a elementary facilities committee's recommendation to close and repurpose some schools, as well as make boundary adjustments. Enrollment growth slowed this school year for BPS, with only 103 more students this year compared to last year.

“The slow (student) growth … has slowed the urgency to adopt these (proposals)," Board President Karl Lembke said during the meeting.

The board reviewed a draft timeline of proposed changes, which it will take up for discussion at its Oct. 9 meeting.

The elementary facilities committee's recommendations to the board, which include closing two smaller schools, Highland Acres and Roosevelt elementary schools, was based on the notion that these schools were inefficient. On Monday, a representative from a group of community members and parents told the board they found a flaw in the data the district gave the committee, which may change how much small schools actually cost. District administration has vowed to give updated data to the group.

Darin Scherr, BPS business and operations manager, said the error was due to wrong data being copied into various spreadsheets. He said he plans to give community members the correct data, and should have an idea of when he will be able to comply with their request on Friday. 

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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