Below is Dr Newcome’s report, presented at the last work session board meeting, listing possible spending reductions. He states, “This list is not in priority order. Each idea has been rejected in some manner in the past for good reason but you may now feel that an item could be reduced/eliminated because our times require such.”
This list is neither a list of actual cuts and reductions, nor a list of recommendations. It is merely a list of what Dr Newcome sees as possible cuts.
Looking over the list, I see more than the $115,000 needed for the zero tax increase, that would not be all too painful.
- $100,000 for returning to half-day Kindergarten
- $80,000 for not replacing 1 retiring teacher (actually salary may be higher)
- $60,000 reducing building budgets (a 10% reduction puts us in line with other schools)
- $12,000 Energy Savings items
- $3,500 reduce paper usage
These five items represent $255,000 in savings, with little to no impact to the overall student body.
One option not placed on the table was consolidating schools.
I’ve come to believe, at the heart of the funding problem is declining enrollment. The predicted enrollment growth, from the 2003 feasibility report, never occurred. Moreover, the district peaked in 2008-09 with 2,714 students and has continued to lose since. The district had 2,583 students in the 2011-12 school year, and predictions indicate it could drop to 2,459 by 2020-21.
The district should commission a study to look at how the current schools are being used, the buildings’ capacities and what would be needed to maintain them. Consolidation would also reduce administrators and office staff.
Consolidating at least two of the district’s schools into one, not only represents a savings in use costs, but also an income opportunity to offset debt service payments.