District 834 eliminates ‘low-hanging fruit’District 834 is $2 million closer to reaching its goal of $10 million in cuts.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
District 834 is $2 million closer to reaching its goal of $10 million in cuts.
District 834 School Board approved the first round of cuts during its Jan. 5 meeting, which totaled $2,064,600.
“We’re trying to capture those savings now,” District 834 Superintendent Corey Lunn said. “We’re going to end the year in a better place.”
District 834 is tasked with cutting $10 million from its operating budget for the 2012-2013 school year after a levy request failed in November.
The ballot question asked voters whether or not to revoke the current operating levy of $965 per student, which expires in 2013, and replace it with a levy of $1,456 per student.
Since the levy request failed, District 834 is tasked with cutting $10 million, or 10 percent of its budget.
District 834’s operating budget is roughly $88 million per year.
“Knowing that we are $2 million on our way to the ($10 million) is a good feeling,” Lunn said. “That paints a little bit more optimistic picture.”
“The next lists are going to be harder and harder – and have more of an impact, but right now we’ve made the situation better for next year.”
Staffing changes led the way in the first round of cuts: School Board members carved out about $700,000 – or 29 percent of the total amount – which included elimination of the equipment manager position. Some staff will not be asked back for the second semester as part of the cuts, which also include wage and time decreases and a districtwide hiring freeze.
Other budget adjustments approved during last Thursday’s District 834 School Board meeting included: accounting shifts totaling $180,000, or 9 percent of the cuts; the delay of purchasing new social studies curriculum and carrying over savings from music curriculum, totaling 19 percent of cuts, or $390,000.
Also included were energy savings, which totaled 5 percent of cuts or $9,600; an increase in sports fees of $13,000; reduction of the building and department budget by 10 percent, or $575,000; transportation modifications totaling 1 percent of cuts, or $20,500; and the reduction of substitute and overtime costs for clerical and custodial positions, totaling $94,000.
“These are the things we sometimes refer to as the low hanging fruit,” Lunn said. “They will have the least impact on the students.”
More cuts coming
Over the past two months, District 834’s Budget Adjustment Advisory Committee has been hard at work narrowing down the possible budget cuts.
The 32-member committee is made up of staff members and community members who both volunteered and were approached by the district for their involvement.
Over the next few weeks the committee will be reviewing a list of 44 areas that can receive cuts. The areas fall under the categories of calendar adjustments, transportation, class sizes, co-curricular activities, staff reductions, supplies and materials, fees and revenue.
Additionally, many of the items that were cut this year can count as cuts for next year as well, Lunn said.
“There’s a potential for a lot of things to count more than once,” he said.
Committee members will be asked to divide the 44 areas in three priority categories before developing potential ideas on where and how to cut.
“The next lists are going to be harder and harder – and have more of an impact,” Lunn said. “But right now we’ve made the situation better for next year.”
The Budget Adjustment Advisory Committee is scheduled to have one additional workshop on Jan. 26, in addition to two community meetings on Jan. 17 and Jan. 24.
The committee is hoping to have a recommendation to the School Board by Feb. 2.