During the next two months, the Board of Education will be focused on establishing a budget for the 2013-2014 school year. On April 15, 2013, I presented two different budget options to the Board of Education. These options were based on several assumptions. During this blog, I will try to explain both of these options and the assumptions that each of the options were based on during their construction.
2013-2014 Budget Options:
The first option is based on the Governor's current budget proposal, which is a revenue limit freeze. Under this option, the district would receive approximately $82,000 in new revenue based upon increased student enrollment over the past three years. Other sources of new revenue come from two fee increases: 1) the fee for Drivers Education will be increased from $450 to $500 per student, a net increase of $50 per student. This increase should generate about $8,000 in additional revenue for the 2013-2014 school year. 2) a transportation fee will be assessed for all students grades 6-12 who reside within two miles of school. The fee approved by the Board was $200 per family. I have estimated that this fee will bring in new revenue of approximately $20,000. Under this option, the district would have approximately $110,000 of new revenue to allocate in the proposed budget.
The second option is based on a $150 per student revenue cap increase being pushed by Luther Olson and several other Republican legislators. Under this option, the district would receive approximately $380,000 in new revenue based upon increased student enrollment over the past three years and the proposed revenue limit increase of $150 per student . Other sources of new revenue come from two fee increases: 1) the fee for Drivers Education will be increased from $450 to $500 per student, a net increase of $50 per student. This increase should generate about $8,000 in additional revenue for the 2013-2014 school year. 2) a transportation fee will be assessed for all students grades 6-12 who reside within two miles of school. The fee approved by the Board was $200 per family. I have estimated that this fee will bring in new revenue of approximately $20,000. Under this option, the district would have approximately $408,000 of new revenue to allocate in the proposed budget.
Both of the following budget scenarios are based on the following assumptions:
1) Health insurance increases for the district will be held at the 2012-2013 levels either by changing the plan design, increasing the premium amount paid by the staff, a combination of these two options or selecting an alternative health insurance provider;
2) No funds have been included for the health insurance decision regarding employees who work 30 or more hours per week. The decision on this topic will provide additional funds that can be reallocated, be cost neutral or require additional revenue to meet the increased expenditure:
a) If employees who currently work 30 or more hours per week are reduced to 25 hours per week for next year during the measurement period then additional dollars will be available to reallocate in next year’s budget;
b) If the number of employees who work 30 or more hours per week are reduced in number from 51 paraprofessionals to approximately 25 paraprofessionals (about 50%) then the remaining 25 individuals will receive 50% of a single health insurance premium for the 2013-2014 school year and will be eligible for the same or comparable insurance coverage as all other staff members during the 2014-2015 school year. This option would save the district money in 2013-2014, but would go back to the 2012-2013 levels in 2014-2015;
c) If the number of employees who currently work 30 or more hours per week are all employed for the same number of hours during the 2013-2014 school years, then the district will need to put in additional dollars to cover the cost of those individuals who elect to receive 50% of a single health insurance premium. This option has an additional cost during the 2014-2015 school year because all of the employees would be eligible to receive the same health insurance benefits as employees who work 1,440 hours or more per year, teachers and administrators. This option would cost approximately $750,000 at today’s insurance rates.
At the conclusion of the Board's budget discussion on Monday night, the Board asked me and the other administrators to bring back a recommendation regarding this issue to the full Board for its May 6 Board of Education meeting.
3) Most building and department budgets are being held at the 2012-2013 levels.
In conjunction with the above options, the Board will need to consider what direction they would like to go in for the “measurement period” of the Affordable Care Act. The “measurement period” for the school district will start on July 1, 2013, and end on April 30, 2014. During this "measurement period" any employee who works an average of 30 hours or more per week during this time period will be entitled to health insurance coverage during the 2014-2015 school year. Therefore, the decisions made regarding this issue will have ramifications not only for the 2013-2014 school year, but even more significant ramifications for the 2014-2015 budget.
Both budget options include the following funds that may be reallocated for the 2013-2014 school year:
1) Superintendent Search Firm $25,000
2) Administrator/Teacher Staff Replacements $65,000
3) Superintendent Post-Employment Benefits $25,500
4) Expired Employee Retirement Benefits $80,000
5) Reduction in Sick Leave Costs $30,000
6) Elimination of 2 High School Paraprofessionals $40,000
Under Option 1, the following items would be added to the 2013-2014 budget:
1) School Bus $110,000;
2) Increase to Supply and Material Budgets $89,900
3) Fund increased cost of Liability and Property Insurance $10,000
4) Increase High School Librarian from .75 to 1.0 FTE (Full Time Equivalent)$12,000
5) Increase Intermediate Center Librarian from .75 to 1.0 FTE $20,000
6) Increase Early Learning Center/Primary Center Librarian from .5 to 1.0 FTE $36,000
7) Hire 1.0 Additional Middle School Teacher $60,000
Under this option, staff would not receive a salary increase for the 2013-2014 school year.
Under Option 2, all of the above items would be added to the 2013-2104 budget and also the following items:
1) Increase the Middle School/High School Music teacher from .75 to 1.0 FTE $21,000
2) Provide a staff salary increase of approximately 2.07% (CPI) $315,000
During the next several weeks, the 2013-2014 budget will be discussed at each of the regularly scheduled Board of Education meetings. I encourage each of you to come to these meetings, which are held on the first and third Mondays of the month starting at 7:00 p.m. All Board meetings are held in the Middle School Step Room. I will also be writing bi-weekly updates on the budget so that you can keep up with the various changes and revisions that are being made to each option. If you any specific questions regarding the budget process and the budget options that have been described, feel free to contact me at (608) 437-2400 extension 1211.
What is the Cost Benefit of Replacing these Three Items?
These three projects were chosen because they would help reduce our energy consumption at the High School by about 35%. The improved insulation R-value associated with a new roof and new thermal pane windows at the High School will reduce the building’s energy loss and allow the new heating/cooling system to be properly sized.The current boilers are approximately 65% efficient and could be replaced by a new set of boilers that operate at 95% efficiency. The new roof will have an R-value of 25, currently the roof has a R-value of about 11. The combined energy efficiency of the boilers, roof and thermal-pane windows would save the district conservatively $30,000 or more in natural gas usage each year. During the last five years, the district has spent on average $110,000 per year to heat the High School. The new heating system would also allow the central core section of the building to be air conditioned during the summer months.
The energy savings of approximately $30,000 per year generated by these three projects could be reallocated to other sections of the school budget. Though it has not yet been decided exactly where these savings would be reallocated, some potential uses could be additional non-energy savings maintenance projects such as flooring replacement. Currently the district budgets approximately $130,000 per year for maintenance projects. The savings could also be reallocated to purchase additional supplies and equipment for the school district. During the 2012-2013 school year, this area of the budget was reduced by approximately $600,000 in order to maintain our current staffing levels and curricular and co-curricular programs.
The referendum question is asking the residents of the school district to approve the borrowing of $6,170,000 for the replacement of the High School heating system, the repair of the High School roof and the replacement of the single pane windows at the High School and Early Learning Center. The tax impact of $6,170,000 is $.25 per $1,000 of equalized property value. The chart below represents the tax impact on different equalized property values:
As we are approaching the end of the first semester of the 2012-2013 school year, it is again time to start preparing our budget for the 2013-2014 school year. The past few years have had some difficult budget challenges, but I believe that this year’s budget will be the most difficult budget that I have had to put together in my seventeen years as your Superintendent. It has always been my goal and the goal of the Board of Education to create a balanced budget without staff layoffs. This will continue to be our goal, but the obstacles in our way are more numerous than at any other time in the past. Our State and nation’s fiscal recovery continues to be slow. The fiscal cliff and debt ceiling discussions at the federal level have yet to be resolved and their decisions on these issues will have a direct impact on our budget. Current sequestration decisions, if not changed or modified, will reduce our federal revenue by around 7%. Governor Walker has not yet given his 2013-2015 budget to the legislature, so at this time I do not know what our per pupil revenue allotment will be for the 2013-2014 school year.
In order to start the budgeting process, I have made several assumptions: 1) Per pupil revenue limit will be increased to $200 per student based on a three-year average for the 2013-2014 school year; 2) Our student population will remain constant for 2013-2014, thus having a three-year average student increase of seventeen (17) students; 3) Health insurance premium rates increase by 10%; and 4) At this point, two teachers will retire at the end of the 2012-2013 school year; (savings of $30,000). Based on these and other factors, I have estimated that our school district will need to receive approximately $500,000 in order to create a balanced 2013-2014 budget. However, an estimated 10% health insurance increase equates to an increase in premiums of approximately $290,000. Thus leaving approximately $210,000 for any staff compensation increases, increases to the district and building’s supply, material and equipment budgets; and any additional staff increases.
In an effort to create a balanced budget, while at the same time minimizing the impact on staff, the Administrative Council will continue to review budgetary options. As you prepare your classroom, grade level and department budget, please budget as though these amounts will not be increased. Also prioritize your budget requests, so if more money becomes available we will know what items should be added to your request and if the amount is reduced, we will know what items to cut from your requests.
The Board of Education’s Finance Committee will be looking at our projected health insurance premiums and determining whether or not to suggest any changes to the Board that would allow the district to reallocate funds. On our January 21 Inservice Day, the staff will be able to start the budget development process by working on their classroom and department budgets.
The Administrative Council has already begun prioritizing the anticipated needs of the school district. It will be our goal to determine how to best meet the district’s priorities under the assumptions previously discussed. During the month of February, the BGIT Committee will review the draft budgets for Buildings & Grounds and Transportation. The Education Committee will review the District’s draft technology budget and the draft budget for Curriculum and Instruction. In March, these district-wide budgets will be reviewed by the Finance Committee. In April, the draft building budgets will be reviewed by the Finance Committee. Once the various Committees have had a chance to examine the proposed 2013-2014 budget and make suggestions and modifications, the draft budget will be brought to the full Board of Education and they will then re-examine the budget(s) and make a final determination of where our dollars should be spent within the district. The Board of Education will have budget updates as a regular part of their meeting agenda starting in March so that staff and community members can provide input to the Board of Education as it makes its decisions regarding the prioritization of the district’s funds.
A continuing goal in the budget process is to keep everyone informed about where money is allocated within the budget. As this process takes place, I will keep the district’s staff and community members updated by putting regular budget updates on my district blog.
Staff should begin work on their 2013-2014 budget requests immediately. Requisition forms are available in school offices. All staff should make sure that they are using valid pricing information for the 2013-2014 school year. Please make sure to include shipping and handling charges on your purchase orders and keep in mind that the district does not pay sales tax. Be sure that you have prioritized all of your requests, #1 through however many budget requests you are presenting. This will be especially important this year because the amount of money currently designated to the area of supplies, materials and equipment has been kept at the 2012-2013 levels. Develop a supporting rationale for each request. The supporting rationale becomes very important as administrators attempt to direct our limited available funds to those areas where the identified need is the greatest for the district.
Administrators will establish a timetable for their buildings and/or departments, which will allow them to meet with their respective staff members. The enclosed budget timeline illustrates the sequence of events to be followed prior to final board approval on June 3, 2013.
All staff members that submit budget requests will receive a written summary of their budget by June 7, 2013. Please realize that it may be necessary to make additional budget cuts after that date. Head administrators will be consulted/notified when cuts are deemed necessary and they are responsible to keep staff apprised of the status of their budget requests.
I want to thank you in advance for your help in sacrificing different individual needs so that the greater needs of the school district can be achieved. It is my honor to lead you through these difficult times.During the upcoming weeks, I will continue to provide updates on my blog dealing with the budget development process. If you have any questions concerning the budget process or the budget in general please feel free to contact me at 437-2400 ext. 2111.
During the past several years, the Mount Horeb Area School District Board has discussed the issue of transporting students who live within two miles of their school building. Due to increased transportation costs and increased Village ridership, the school district has been discussing what changes need to be made in order to continue to provide a valuable service to the community, while at the same time being sensitive to the district's transportation budget. Currently, the Mount Horeb Area School District allows all students, both within and outside of the Village limits, to ride school busses to and from school for no fee.
In order to continue this practice for the 2013-2014 school year, additional Village bus routes must be incorporated to provide an opportunity for all K- 12 students to ride on a school bus, while at the same time insuring that all of our busses are transporting only the number of students allowed within their legal limits. Since several of our Village bus routes recently had more bus riders than our busses were allowed to carry, the district added an additional bus route to eliminate this problem prior to winter break.
Our current bus fleet has twenty-seven (27) busses. In order to transport all K-12 students in 2013-2014, the District would need to purchase at least one new school bus at a cost of approximately $95,000 and employ one more full-time route driver. The cost for wages and fuel for a route is approximately $20,000 per year. Therefore, in order to maintain the same level of service for the 2013-2014 school year that residents currently receive the district would need to increase the 2013-2014 transportation budget by $115,000 to cover the cost of a new bus and one additional route.
During the January 7, 2013, I recommended the following options to the Board of Education to consider for the 2013-2014 school year: 1) Continue the current transportation practice of allowing all K-12 students to ride busses to and from school and allocate an additional $115,000 to the transportation budget to cover the cost of one additional bus and one additional route. This would allow the district to continue the status quo. 2) Change the current transportation practice by allowing all K-5 Village students to ride the bus free of charge, but denying bus ridership to Village students in grades 6-12, except for those students who live in hazardous regions of the Village. This option would reduce bus ridership and probably allow the district to maintain its current number of routes thus eliminating the need to add an additional bus route. This option should not increase car traffic at any of our elementary schools, but it might increase car traffic at the Middle School. 3) Adopt option #2, but allow students in grades 6-12 to ride the bus by paying a bus ridership fee of $200 per family. This would give access to bus service to all families in the school district who needed or desired bus service. It would probably still reduce bus ridership enough to allow us to maintain our current number of bus routes. 4) Our current Bus Routing and Scheduling Policy #751.1 and State law allows the district to transport only those students who live two miles or more from school and those students who live in hazardous areas less than two miles from school. Implementing this option would greatly reduce bus ridership thus possibly postponing the need to purchase an additional bus for one or more years and also allowing the district to reduce it current transportation budget because of the elimination of bus routes and drivers. However, it would greatly increase car traffic around our elementary schools and possibly our Middle School.
It was my recommendation to adopt either option #2 or #3 because these options allowed us to maintain our current budgets, while at the same time providing a service to parents. The school district would waive the bus ridership fee for those families that qualify for free and reduced lunch. The Board of Education accepted my recommendation. So at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, students in grades K-5 who live within two miles of their school will continue to be allowed to ride the school bus at no cost. However, students in grades 6-12 who live within two miles of the Middle School or High School and do not live within designated hazardous areas will only be allowed to ride the school bus to and from school by paying a bus ridership fee of $200 per family.
Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, people across the nation have been focused on school security. Parents, children, staff and community members want to know that their schools are safe. During the past week, we have been reviewing our security plans to make certain that the precautions that we have in place are being consistently followed in all of our buildings and also to determine what needs to be done to increase our building security in the future. After my last blog, I have had numerous individuals contact me with questions, concerns and ideas for how the district might increase our current security measures. In my response to each of them, I indicated that I would be preparing a second blog to review our current security measures and also discuss some possible changes that will be implemented either now or in the near future to better secure each of our buildings.
The following is a list of our current security measures and also a list of ideas that we are now exploring to increase building security:
1) All outside doors will be locked once the school day starts with the exception of the main front doors. The front doors will currently remain unlocked for use by the general public. However, I am currently getting pricing to install a video surveillance and secure entry system for each of our front doors. This system would allow the district to lock all outside entrances to the general public once the school day has begun. After the start of school, all individuals who wanted to enter the building would have to be “buzzed in” by one of our office personnel. It is my hope to have the cost estimates for such a system by early January, so that the possible purchase and means of funding can be discussed by the school board at one of their two January Board of Education meetings.
2) All district personnel and visitors will be required to wear identification badges in all of our school buildings. District staff members currently have photo identification badges that they will wear so that they can be easily identified. All visitors and vendors will also be required to wear guest identification badges in order to be present in our buildings during the school day.
3) Every school building will practice intruder/lockdown drills. The students in grades K-5 will practice these drills at least four times per year and the students in grades 6-12 will practice these drills at least two times per year.
4) All staff and substitute staff will be trained in security procedures on an annual basis. Currently each of our buildings has a crisis management flip chart that is updated on an annual basis by the district’s safety committee. The district’s safety committee currently meets on a monthly basis to review and make recommendations on district safety and security issues.
5) The district is examining different methods to notify all staff members instantly about a crisis situation that may be or is occurring in a district building. This communication method will be designed to provide information without creating panic or any undue disturbance.
6) Should a security situation arise within the district, information will be provided to the public by means of postings on the district website and eblasts. The district is also currently examining an alternative communication system that would allow messages to be sent directly to all cell phones and landlines.
7) Each of our school buildings currently has a student services team that meets weekly to discuss students who may be experiencing mental, emotional or social issues. These teams are staffed with district professionals who can help identify various student needs. Once a student has been identified, the district either finds a way to provide the needed service directly or works with the parents/guardians to indentify outside organizations or personnel that can help provide the individual with the physical or mental assistance needed.
8) The Mount Horeb Police Department will be working closely with school district personnel to do a security audit of each school building. The district will use this information to make any necessary adjustments in our security planning.
I hope that you have found this information informative and helpful. Please know that we will do everything possible to insure the safety of our students and staff. I would like to thank each of you for your suggestions, ideas and support. Working together we can create a stronger, safer place for everyone who comes through our doors.