The Boscobel Area School District School Board approved the proposed 2015-16 budget at a special meeting on Tuesday night.
The revenue calculated by consulting business manager Carol Dyer for the district is $8,676,752. That is down $427,641.46 from the previous year.
Total expenses are calculated at $9,700,138, reflecting an increase of $64,457.38.
That leaves the school district with a shortfall of $1,023,386. If the school referendum planned for Nov. 3 passes, the district’s current operating budget will be reimbursed $383,035.18 for completed projects included in the referendum, reducing the shortfall to $640,350.82.
The tax levy rate is estimated at $6.71 per $1,000 in equalized value. This is a 22-percent decrease, or $1.89 per $1,000 less in taxes levied from the previous year.
The amount of the levy is determined by subtracting expected state aid from the revenue cap set by the legislature. Any changes in state aid or property values can lower or raise the levy. Aid and revenue cap limits amounts are also tied to enrollment numbers. Additionally, the law limits increases in the revenue cap by real dollar amounts, rather than adjusting for inflation to compensate for increasing costs.
The Boscobel School District, as with all school districts in the state, noted Dyer, cannot exceed the revenue limit to increase the levy without taking it to referendum. The state governor and legislature constrained increases in the tax levy to zero percent this year. Many districts across the state have gone to referendum in order to meet increasing operating costs.
“Schools have kind of gotten dumped on,” Dyer said. “Requirements and standards are being increased, but not the funding to implement the changes or maintain the programming.”
Dyer warned the board that they would need to plan for maintenance of the school general fund, saying the trend of increasing costs and shrinking revenues is likely to continue for at least a few more years.
“You had a really healthy fund balance,” Dyer said. “Last year it dropped to 24-percent (of the operating budget) and this year it is going down to 13-percent. I am worried about the long term. You are going to have to really take a look at your budget and plan seven or 10 years out.”
If the Nov. 3 referendum does not pass, the district’s general fund balance is estimated at $1,256,514.45 at the end of the current school year, or 10.4-percent of current estimated operating expenses. If the referendum does pass, the estimated general fund balance at the end of the year increases to $1,639,549.63, or 13-percent of current estimated operating expenses.
The district will need to look closely at operational expenses and make new hiring decisions with caution, Dyer suggested.
Board vice-president Chuck Owens noted that this is a cyclical problem that the school district has faced over the years. Owens asked Dyer if it would be wise to hire a grant writer to pursue additional funding resources.
“There are a lot of grants out there,” Dyer said. “But they are competitive and there is no guarantee. So I would suggest you have a plan and some numbers in place before you make a decision like that.”
Dyer noted that she had met with the district operational manager and principals. They had begun to look through individual budgets for cuts that could be made to the district’s operating costs.
The district budget will be presented at the school district’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 6:45 p.m. in the middle school/high school cafeteria.
The board must finalize and approve the budget by October 31.
In other business, the Boscobel School Board:
• denied an open enrollment request;
• approved paying the consulting business manager Carol Dyer $50 per hour;
• approved a $5.55 per hour increase and option to pay up to six credits for the administrative assistant, effective Oct. 5;
• approved paying Crystal Krachey $20 per hour for her work assisting with the Third Friday Count; and
• approved the Operations Manager and RTI/IEP Coordinator contracts.