Home Education Hobbs Schools board approves $218M budget

Hobbs Schools board approves $218M budget

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Hobbs Schools board approves $218M budget

Largest portion, $127.5 million, set aside for day-to-day operations


Andy Brosig/News-Sun

The Hobbs Board of Education last week unanimously approved a more than $218 million budget to keep the doors open and the lights on — and more — during the 2024-25 school year.

Kerri Gray, director of finance for Hobbs Municipal Schools, told the board the largest outlay — more than $127 million — goes directly to support staff and students. Of that, more than $84 million is paid out to cover staff salaries and benefits, Gray said.

“Schools prioritize where they spend their money” in annual budgets, she said. “In all the years I’ve been here (Hobbs Municipal Schools) always focus on staff and students.”

Both salaries and insurance costs will increase next year after Legislators mandated a minimum 3 percent across-the-board raise for school employees, Gray told the board.

She also said the cost of providing health insurance to employees is expected to increase by about 20 percent for the coming school year.

District employees will only see a small percentage of the projected health insurance cost increase as the district will continue to pay 80 precent of the cost of premiums for its staff.

Gray projected salaries at about $70 million, with another $1.5 million in salaries and benefits projected for jobs currently vacant. The budget includes another $815,000 for professional staff development.

“We believe in developing people,” she said. “That’s how we make them better.”

The operations budget for Hobbs Schools also includes $2.4 million for what’s known as “risk insurance,” similar in function to liability insurance for homeowners in the private sector, and another $1.5 million for workers compensation insurance.

There’s another $2 million set aside for instructional materials and $2.4 million earmarked for cost of utilities.

More than $1 million will be put toward the district’s Parent Attendance Liaison program which works with students and their families to improve attendance for chronically-absent students.

And $150,000 will go to fund three new elementary secretary positions, so each elementary campus in Hobbs will have two secretaries, she said.

Operational funds for school in New Mexico comes from the state’s General Fund and the special Public School Fund, according to information on the NMPED website. The state’s General Fund is mainly supported by the oil and gas industry.

Those funds are financed with a mix of general and gross receipt taxes, income tax, interest, rent and licensing fees. Additional funding comes from Federal Mineral Leasing Revenue program, which also pays for a program providing free textbooks to school districts.

The budget also includes another more than $91 million of the total $218 million budget earmarked for non-operational programs. Some of that comes from local oil and gas revenue, property taxes and federal program funding to pay for food service, transportation services and more, Gray said.

Cost of transporting students, for example, will be almost $3.1 million next year, she said, and food service costs will be slightly more than $7 million. Non-operational funds also include debt service and smaller federal and state grants for specific program operations.

And, once all the funds were allotted in the budget, there was a balance of about $426,000 remaining, Gray told the board.

But school policy calls for a balanced budget, with revenue equal to spending, Gray said, so the balance will be used to fulfill campus-based requests which are considered on a case-by-case basis, she said.

In other business, the board:

• Recognized retired State Senator Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, and Gary Eidson former school board chair and current chair of the Lea County Commissioners, with Students Excellence Awards from the New Mexico School Board Association for their service to education.

• Received a Silver Magna Award from the National School Board Association in recognition of the community contributions from the Career Technical Education Center Hobbs facility.

• Heard a regular monthly report from Brian Byrd, director of human resources. Over the course of the past year, HMS has lost 56 employees through either resignation or retirement. As of Tuesday, Byrd said, 41 people are in line to fill some of those positions, “but we’re still looking.”

• Approved an out-of-state travel request from the SkillsUSA chapter at CTECH for $14,665 to compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, set for June 24 – 28 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga. SkillsUSA leader Juan Carlos Medina and CTE Director Jose Mares told the board 92 Hobbs students competed in various categories at the state conference in April with 42 qualifying to advance to the national competition. That compares to last year, when about a dozen students qualified for the nationals, Mara said.

“The majority of this funding was built into their budget this year,” Superintendent Gene Strickland told board members. “Whatever wasn’t, the district will cover.”

• Approved two memorandums-of-understanding with the City of Hobbs for traffic- and safety-related improvements at or near HMS campuses. In the first, the city commission approved a $350,000 grant to the district to help defray costs of “roadway and utility public infrastructure” near College Lane Elementary in north Hobbs. In the second, the district will pay $150,000 to the city for “expenses related to the construction of two Pedestrian Hybrid Crosswalk” signals at the intersection of Bender Boulevard and Brazos Avenue and at Marland Boulevard and Clinton Street.

The MOUs “continue the tradition of the schools and the city working together,” said Doug Young, HMS director of operations. “The two crosswalks will provide safer crossings for thos kids who have to make treacherous crossings in those high-traffic areas.”

• Hobbs High School graduation is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Watson Memorial Stadium. Doors will open at 9 a.m.

• The last day of school for Hobbs students will be Friday, with early dismissal for secondary students at 11:30 a.m. and elementary at 12:20 p.m. Staff will be dismissed for the year at the regular time.

• The next school board meeting is set for 6 p.m. June 18 in the district offices, 1515 E. Sanger St., in Hobbs.

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