Approximately 38 people gathered in the Boscobel middle and high school cafeteria for Tuesday night’s annual meeting of the Boscobel School District.
Mike Clark with Robert W. Baird & Co. was on hand to explain the budget and levy presentation, since the school business office is in transition without a business manager.
Clark explained the falling revenues simply – declining enrollment.
“The revenue limit capacity is down in relation to enrollment numbers,” Clark said. You were more protected from the financial impact last year, because the district was granted a declining enrollment exemption last year. That exemption helps pad the blow; it slows the descent (of state funding) so you don’t feel it all at once. This year you received less.”
That trend will continue until the school district’s state aid aligns with the actual three-year enrollment average, Clark explained.
Clark pointed out increasing expenses and contrasted them to the declining revenues the district has available.
“The district has a solid general fund balance right now, but you can’t live off that too long,” Clark said.
Responding to questions, Clark explained that the school would need to either cut expenses, increase revenue, or ideally, some combination of both, in order to correct the direction of the district financially.
“I encourage districts in this situation to look at cutting expenditures first, find ways of operating more efficiently,” Clark said. “And look at ways to retain students. But then you must look at the expectations of the community and what they expect the school to provide in services, You don’t want to cut so much you are not meeting their expectations.”
The school district ran the 2014-2015 with an approximately $500,000 deficit, Clark noted, and this year would run around a $1 million deficit.
The district loses around $7,000 for each student who leaves the district, making student retention a viable means of reducing some funding loss, though the district cannot deny all open enrollment, Clark pointed out.
Former Boscobel School District business manager Cheryl Knowles asked Baird what the general fund balance should be maintained at, noting the school’s policy indicated 15%.
Clark responded by saying the board should start to be concerned now, though he did not recommend the percentage point as a designation of where the general fund balance should be maintained.
“This year is very critical for the board to address the situation,” Clark said.
Adjourning the budget and questions about the budget, the board moved on to the adoption of resolutions.
Board president and meeting chair Todd Miller asked for a motion for the adoption of the budget. In response, district constituent Mark Knowles motioned for an amendment to the tax levy instead.
“I move to amend the tax levy resolution on the floor as follows,” Knowles said. “That the Boscobel Area Schools, in order to increase revenue, have a operations referendum of $500,000 – per the power of the electorate at the annual meeting 120.10(8) – to make up for lost state aid on the condition that the Boscobel Area Schools cut $500,000 in expenditures in order to balance the budget.”
Some confusion occurred at this point, since many attendees were unable to hear what was being said and it was unclear to them what was being voted on.
Clark did note that even if approved, the resolution Knowles had proposed would not be able to be put into effect to in time to impact the schools immediate deficit.
Knowles resolution was put to a vote and failed to pass, with most of the room voting against in a voice vote.
All resolutions were passed:
• adopted of the 2015-2016 tax levy at a projected mill rate of $6.71 per $1,000 of equalized property value;
• adopted a salary of $60 per board meeting for all board members except the president, $65 per meeting for the President, plus $20 per standing board committee meeting;
• adopted of reimbursement of board member expenses;
• adopted the next annual meeting date as Oct. 25, 2016;
• authorized the board to purchase property and establish building sites as needed by the school district, and to accept property deeded to the district;
• approved providing the hot lunch program;
• authorized the board to provide for legal representation for prosecution or defense of school interests;
• authorized furnishing free textbooks; and
• authorized providing transportation of students within the school district.