The Iola-Scandinavia (I-S) School District was already planning for a $150,000 budget shortfall before Gov. Scott Walker presented his budget proposal last week.
And, like every other school district in the state, it is now looking at an even higher shortfall if the governor’s budget is approved as is.
For the I-S School District, the governor’s proposed cut in education funding means the district anticipates that its revenue limit would decrease by $654,846.
Jon Novak, who is the school district’s business manager, said that figure also includes revenue lost due to a declining enrollment in the district.
The I-S School District’s current budget is $8.2 million, with current per pupil spending of $9,498.31.
The projected per pupil spending under the governor’s proposal would be $8,975.90, a decrease of $522.41 per pupil, he said.
District Administrator Joe Price said the school board began talking about next year’s budget on Feb. 14.
At that time, $150,000 was the projected shortfall for the 2011-12 school year.
“So, we had looked at a couple of things,” he said.
Proposed was reducing the number of sections in fourth and sixth grade from three sections to two sections next school year, changing the school psychologist CESA contract from 60 percent to 40 percent and dropping a part-time Spanish teacher.
The school board has already approved the CESA 5 contract, and the staff reductions will be discussed at the board’s March 14 meeting.
“All that was covering that (original projected) shortfall. Honestly, we’re still figuring it out,” Price said of the governor’s budget proposal.
Layoff notices must be sent out by April 15.
An April 15 deadline for layoff notices has been part of the contract for the last four to six years, he said.
“If there is no language in the contract, then you have to follow the statutes (Feb. 28 deadline for preliminary layoff notices). But, you can modify it in the contract, which we did,” Price said.
He said that when a school district has a later date for layoffs, generally the layoff procedure is connected with a policy on rehiring.
The school board association was afraid that when such contracts expire, and if there was no longer collective bargaining for such issues, that there would be no rehiring policy.
The I-S School District employs about 60 teachers. “I don’t want to give layoff notices to all of our staff,” he said. “We’ve got kind of a set procedure we follow. Last month, we started talking about it. We will come back and talk again in March. Then, in April, we have to make a commitment.”
Teachers in the district pay 10 percent toward family health insurance and 5 percent toward single coverage. The employer covers 100 percent of the pension contribution, Novak said.
Price said that if the governor’s budget repair bill were to pass, the amount that teachers would then have to contribute into their retirement would equate to about $152,000.
The governor says he is giving school districts the tools they need, but Price said that Walker’s assumptions about health insurance take into account what is being paid on average across the state – an average that is below the 10 percent teachers are already paying in the I-S district.
He said if there is anything positive to come out of these discussions, it is that it is better to spread costs evenly.
“When you charge 6 percent to all teachers, then, everyone gives a little bit,” he said.
If the district had to seek $152,000 in savings, that would equate to laying off two teachers.
“We will try to find ways to spread the reduction so we can maintain programs,” Price said.