In a unanimous vote, the Riverdale School Board approved pursuing a non-recurring, five-year operational referendum on the spring ballot. If approved by voters, the referendum will allow the school district to exceed the state imposed revenue limit by $600,000 each year.
District Administrator Bryce Bird stated that he wanted to make the facts behind the decision clear to district residents, noting that the school district has made many cuts in the preceding years and had reached a point where additional cuts would impact students negatively.
Over the past 10 years, the district has cut one administrative position, eight teaching positions, and two bus drivers. Additionally, all but one custodial position were cut to part time, all but five teachers aides were cut to part time, and one full-time librarian was reduced to part-time as a library media specialist. Each of the cuts to part time allowed the school to reduce employee benefit costs.
Other measures that have reduced school costs relating to employment have involved cutting teacher prep time, reducing the supply budget, changing insurance policies, increasing employee share of insurance and retirement costs, switching middle school sports to community fund sports, and delaying a new bus purchase.
While these cuts have allowed the school district to operate within budget without dipping into the general fund excessively, fiscally conservative spending has had unexpected blow-back through the state aid formula. Less money spent, less money received in aid. Which now leaves the district in a position where looming budget shortfalls mean the school must either exceed the revenue limit in order to maintain operations or they must use more money from the general fund.
Tapping into the general fund is a limited option. The school needs to maintain a fund that will cover around 18-percent of expenses to cover gaps between when funds are dispersed to the district. If the school does not have the funds to cover expenses during those periods, they must borrow and then incur short term borrowing interest costs...
For the complete article, please see the Jan. 12, 2017 issue of the Muscoda Progressive or Boscobel Dial.