Story originally published in (February, 2017) issue 4 of Scout.
$57,880,770 is a lot of money. On top of paying for maintenance, teachers and materials for students, the school may have a difficult time keeping up with expenses because of the recent talk of House Bill 1001, a funding bill issued by the governor every two years that affects school budgets.
“They are basing how much their budget is going to be on what they think revenues are going to be over two years,” Rob James, Director of Business, said. “No one actually knows for sure how much sales tax money the state is going to generate. We are often driven by the economy, and when things are not going well nation-wide, people are holding back money and not spending money. That means the state is not generating as much money, and that means they have less money to give out. I always tell kids to just to think of their own personal wallet: you have less money coming in than you thought you would, so you have less money to spend. It’s the same thing, just on a grander scale.”
If the budget were to grow due to the HB1001, it could range from a 0.5 to two percent increase. The final number will not be revealed to the school until later this spring. If the budget was to decrease, the drop in elementary students could be a more prominent factor.
“Sometimes buildings are growing more than others. Kolling and Protsman are largely populated, where schools like Watson and Peifer are smaller. We see [that] our population of kids as a whole has been steadily going down. Even though we are only getting a few extra dollars per kid, if [we are] going to have less kids, then we will see how that multiplies out,” James said.
A student is worth $5,379.61, and due to a decreasing amount of elementary students attending schools in the district, the corporation will be losing that much money per student, which could lead to detrimental financial setbacks.
“If we get no new money, our expenditures increase, [and if] our revenues stay the same, we probably would have to cut some things. No one likes to go down that path,” James said. “If we don’t have the resources coming in on the revenue, then we have to look at staffing because our salaries and benefits are the biggest expenditures. Instead of having 15 teachers in the Math department, maybe we would only operate with 14 teachers. If that is the case, then class sizes would increase. That is where students would be most likely see the direct impact. The school board [could] choose to eliminate some programs, athletics or clubs, because those things [have large funds, and that would leave less opportunities for kids.’”
If the budget bill comes through, however, then the corporation will not have to be concerned with losing funds.
“On the flip side, [if there is] more funding for us, then the reverse can and would happen. If the influx of dollars would give us the opportunity to add another teacher to a particular school, then maybe those elementary class sizes would decrease a little bit, and the kids will see the impact of that,” James said. “It could also bring new support staff for the teachers. We like to give pay raises to our staff. They work really hard [and] it keeps morale up. No one wants to be in an environment where it is not exciting to come to work, so we try to give pay raises every year if we can, and additional funding through the funding bill could help that.”