School board begins difficult budget conversations

School board members are digging into the budget to gain a better understanding of the district’s current and projected financial reality. It was the third in a series of budget meetings held this winter to help board member’s establish budget priorities as it plans for the future.

Just as you may budget for your personal finances, district leaders are looking closely at expenses, considering what might happen with state funding, and setting priorities for how to invest its limited resources. What they’re discovering is no big surprise, but it is a concerning trend impacting districts across the state. Costs - like salaries and benefits (which make up more than 75 percent of the budget), utilities, classroom materials and supplies, and day-to-day expenses, are continuing to rise. Meanwhile, state funding is not keeping pace. The average state funding increase over the past 15 years is just 1.5 percent - that’s more than half a percent less than the national average rate of inflation.

At the start of the next school year, projections show the district will be spending about $2.4 million more than it will bring in as revenue. By the end of the 2021-2022 school year, if nothing is done to increase revenue or reduce expenditures, the district’s fund balance will be completely depleted.

School board members will be meeting over the next several months to have further conversations about their priorities for the future. They’ll consider their options to address the financial challenges - from making budget reductions to considering increases to voter approved and non-voter approved levies.

Watch for more information to be shared as this discussions continue.

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