Fox Point-Bayside's school budget may get some state relief

But added revenue still won't be enough to avoid cuts

May 15, 2013

Fox Point — It was a bit of good news, bad news this week as officials in the Fox Point-Bayside School District continued to discuss and review the preliminary 2013-14 budget.

The good news: State income could rise from the amount doled out in the 2012-13 budget. At a Finance and Facilities Committee meeting Monday, District Administrator Rachel Boechler said indicators point to a range of $50 to $275 per student from the state.

The latest scenario is in stark contrast to discussion early this year, when Fox Point-Bayside and many other area districts were bracing for no increase in state funding. Many districts would need to resort to budget cutting to make ends meet on that premise.

"It remains preliminary because there are so many things going on," Boechler said of the possible state funding increase. "It's going to take many people with different perspectives to come together for this to happen."

Cuts still likely

Even if the state were to increase its funding, Fox Point-Bayside is poised to get out the scalpel and trim from its budget.

Business Manager Amy Kohl presented the committee with budget projections that continued to take into account the zero-based state funding possibility.

"Over the past few months, the administrative team has been working on their individual building and department budgets with the expectation to reduce those budgets by 10 percent," Kohl said.

But the 10 percent cost-cutting likely will not be enough to keep the district in the black without further reductions — even if funding from the state does kick in.

Kohl reviewed some of the positive and negative factors in next year's budget building process. On the plus side, the district stands to cut costs and incur revenue by adding 10 seats through the Open Enrollment program, energy savings and renegotiated phone and Internet contracts with supplier AT&T.

But there are other forces at work that will require additional spending, particularly in the area of curriculum and instruction, since the district will have to invest in greater accountability measures as part of a state mandate. Health and dental rates are to increase modestly, as is the district's property insurance policy.

Through a series of additions and subtractions, Fox Point-Bayside is tentatively planning to reduce its staffing by a 1.3 full-time equivalency rate.

In all, Kohl said the district is looking at a $368,862 shortfall with the zero-based state funding still in play.

Possible reductions?

During Monday's discussion, a number of proposals were discussed, including outsourcing most of the district's maintenance and custodial operations. If it were to move forward, four custodians would be laid off.

"My only concern (about the proposal) is we might have a more transient group of people working in our buildings," said board member Alice Lawton, who chairs the committee.

Putting off some of the district's maintenance projects is another possibility.

"(Deferred maintenance) is not something I'd like to see done, but if you're looking at staff or things, we have to get to that point of looking at where our needs are," Kohl said.

Further updates on the budget will be presented at future committee and full School Board meetings. The board is expected to act on a draft of the document in the coming months, and further modifications will be continue to be made through the fall as concrete information becomes available.

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