With relatively little discussion, members of the Capital school board Wednesday night unanimously adopted a $97.6 million draft budget for the Fiscal Year 2013/2014 school year.
That figure is approximately $1.2 million less than the FY 2012/2013 spending plan.
Total projected expenditures for the district in 2013/2014 will be $93.54 million, with a possible reserve of $10.3 million at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2014, Sokolowski said.
The spending plan contains numerous reductions in expected revenue, reflecting predicted reductions in state and federal funding.
Sokolowski said many of the individual department allocations were reduced to approximately the same as they were in 2004, reflecting the drop-off in expected revenues and belt-tightening in the district. He did allocate a 2 percent increase in some areas to account for inflation.
The finalized district budget cannot be adopted until December, by which time the state of Delaware's completed budget will be known and figures on student enrollment, which the state uses to allocate funds, will be finalized.
The tax rate for district residents will remain at 88 cents, the rate set by a 2005 district referendum. The tuition tax, used to fund programs for special needs children in the district will drop by seven cents to 36 cents.
The net effect to the overall tax rate is a decrease of 5.9 percent.
In other actions, board members approved a $10.67 million package of bids for work on the new Dover High School's athletic facilities. Monies awarded will go toward construction of fields and stadiums, bleachers and grandstands, fencing, scoreboards, artificial turf and electrical work.
Also, without discussion, board members approved a proposal for architectural services for planned renovations at the Kent County Comprehensive School, Booker T. Washington Elementary and Central Middle School. The work went to ABHA Architects of Wilmington, which had previously provided similar services for the Central Middle School auditorium.
Money for the actual construction work, worth an estimated $8.4 million, is expected to be in the state of Delaware's budget for FY 2013/2014.
Board members, with the exception of Brian Lewis who recused himself, voted to notify the state legislature of their opposition to a piece of legislation that would allow charter schools to receive capital funding from the state.
Lewis said he took the recusal action because he has a child attending a charter school.
Under current law the state does not permit charter schools to receive public monies for capital, or infrastructure improvements.
Board member Matthew Lindell called House Bill 165 a "Trojan horse" that would take capital funds away from public schools.
Lindell, who is the school board's liaison with the General Assembly, accused legislators of fast-tracking the bill under what he called "a veil of secrecy."
Page 2 of 2 - "If it's really good legislation, why rush it through?" Lindell asked. If passed, HB 165 would result in increased taxes and available funding being spread among more schools, he said.
"This bill has the odor of a musty backroom and I think we need to add some sunshine to it," he said.
Board members also approved final versions of the district's code of conduct and its policy on dealing with bullying.
Just prior to returning to executive session to discuss a new principal for Central Middle School, retiring board member Dr. Raymond Paylor thanked board members and district personnel for their support during his 10 years on the panel.
"I feel we've grown together and I feel good about what we've accomplished in this district together," he said.
"I remember when our middle schools and high school were the laughing stock of Delaware," Paylor added. "But today those schools are meeting state standards. They're the schools everyone is talking about.
"I love the Capital School District," he said. "I hope you continue to do good things, and God bless all of you."