Thursday, April 16, 2009

Funding struggles

This week's headlines (gathered by KSBA) note three districts struggling with tight funding.

Here in Danville, we may face cuts of fifteen certified and nine classified positions. According to Advocate-Messenger coverage of our last board meeting, "$500,000 to $600,000 would be extracted from a total annual operating budget of $15 million to $16 million."

In Scott County, kindergarten may be cut back. Instead of a half-day program, the district is considering an alternating day program. At a guess, the goal is to be able to transport those students at the same time as slightly older children. In recent coverage, parents are frustrated and teachers concerned about continuity--and my guess is that the district will need to find a different creative idea to solve this crunch. The district is wrestling a $3.5 million potential deficit.

In Garrard County, Superintendent Ray Woolsey is retiring, and explained in part by saying, "I'm tired of having to tell people they don't have a job. It has been a very tough year."

Meanwhile, Floyd County Superintendent Henry Webb said recently that any staff cuts would be due to enrollment declines, rather than the overall economy. I

That led me to notice that the Danville, Scott, and Garrard articles didn't provide detail on the source of the shortfalls. We're not looking (yet, knock on wood) at major cuts to state funding to districts. Other possible issues are:
  • Declining enrollment or average daily attendance.
  • Declining local tax revenue, especially for districts that have some "Tier 2" revenue that gets no state equalization.
  • Rising retirement costs for classified employees.
  • Rising pay costs as staff members move up in rank and seniority.

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