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Capitol improvement projects result in preliminary budget deficit for Morris Area

MORRIS - The Morris Area School District is facing a preliminary budget deficit for 2012 - 2013 of more than $654,000, but most of that number is a result of three planned capitol improvement projects scheduled for next year.

The total deficit for 2012 - 2013 is $645,657, but around $628,000 of that number is related to building improvements and an investment in technology, which already had money set aside to fund them. In total, that leaves an approximately $17,657 operating deficit for the upcoming school year.

The school board is required to pass a preliminary budget before July 1 each year. Throughout the year, the district monitors the budget and, for "transparency and accuracy," will often pass a budget revision in December or January after the yearly audit is completed, said Superintendent Scott Monson.

The three major capitol projects for 2012 - 2013 are re-roofing part of the high school ($420,000), recommissioning across the district's buildings ($58,000) and investing in technology ($150,000). Money to finance all of these projects was previously assigned or committed by the board.

At a special meeting on Tuesday, June 26, the board took a first step forward in their plan to improve district technology by hiring a full-time technology director, Stephen Lien, for a salary of $59,000 per year. Lien is currently a teacher and technology coordinator with the Laporte School District. He has previously taught math and information technology to students in Egypt.

"I think based on what I've learned through this process, [Lien] stepped into a situation in Laporte that's very similar to ours - a little bit of chaos and disorganization and inconsistency - and has really established a really good technology plan and program there," Monson told the board.