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School proposes budget cuts
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SHULLSBURG—The Shullsburg School Board has a $162,000 budget deficit to solve after district administrator Loras Kruser revealed the potential savings he anticipates for the 2012-13 school year.
The board met to discuss the budget to allow sufficient time for layoff notices if necessary. No action was taken at the April 2 meeting, but the board will meet again on April 11 to discuss the budget further.
The school board started the meeting $293,000 behind because of a projected enrollment decline and less state aid. Kruser said he anticipates the enrollment to be 325 next year, compared to 336 this year. The state aid proposed in Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget estimated a $92,149 decrease in state aid, from $3,295,849 to $3,203,700.
Without knowing the insurance rates or the school’s fixed costs, the budget is only a best guess at this point. Kruser anticipated receiving the new insurance quotes by March 1 but still hadn’t seen them as of the April 2 meeting.
“The single biggest piece of the puzzle missing is insurance,” Kruser said. “That could have a significant effect on the budget.”
Kruser said the school’s total budget is $4.6 million. Of that, $2.8 million is salaries and benefits. He said nothing is off the table, including staff reductions.
“I can’t say it will be in the best interests of the students,” Kruser said. “Any cut will impact the kids. That’s what we’re here for, the success of the kids.”
The board briefly looked at cutting the SAGE (student achievement guarantee in education) program, which promotes academic achievement through smaller class sizes in the primary grades, but after discovering the large class sizes the cut would lead to, the $55,000 savings no longer seemed feasible.
The school board decided last month to hire a principal after eight years of having Kruser serve as both principal and superintendent. Kruser said he originally budgeted $106,000 for the new position, but the contract was signed for $82,650, saving approximately $23,000.
Other potential savings included moving the purchase of a student management system to the 2011-12 budget, reduction in the projection of the teacher salary increases, reduction in general supplies, reduction in textbooks and one staff changed insurance saving the school $6,850.
“You [the board] can quit and run with that, making the deficit up with the fund balance… or you can look at programs or staff to cut to reduce the deficit,” Kruser said.
The school district has built up a fund balance of $870,000 that could be used to make up the deficit. The board will look at other cuts to make, including staff reductions, at the April 11 meeting.