Danedri Thompson
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State legislators maintained the current $4,012 in base state aid per pupil in its budget for next year, but that doesn’t mean Spring Hill School District Business Director Doug Schwinn will rest easy when preparing next year’s budget for USD 231.
“Given the economy, at first that sounds like good news,” Schwinn said. “We’re hopeful that with our increases in enrollment this year and then the things we’re already doing to save money we’re not going to have to do anything drastic in cuts.”
However, that doesn’t mean the district will build next year’s budget without savings in some areas.
Schools create annual budgets several months before they actually take effect. District officials will craft a budget for the next fiscal year this summer partially using state aid projections in the budget the Legislature just passed.
Meanwhile, if state revenue doesn’t meet projections, the governor could make cuts to state-funded programs, including public education, before legislators return to Topeka for the 2011 session.
“We’re never out of the woods until the year is actually over,” Schwinn said. “We’re all kind of hoping that we don’t get a mid-year cut like we got this year, which is possible if things don’t turn around.”
It’s happened before, he explained.
Last year, Gov. Mark Parkinson and the state legislature cut base state aid per pupil $388. Some of the cuts were made after districts had adopted their budget for the current school year.
At a recent board meeting, members discussed increasing textbook fees by $10. That may still happen, Schwinn said. There are other cuts district officials were considering before the Legislature made plans to maintain the current state aid,that probably won’t be considered.
“One of the things we were looking at was adding an activity fee,” Schwinn said. “That was not done, and right now going into the new school year that’s temporarily off the table.”
Other cost-saving measures – like changing block scheduling at the high school or implementing a tiered busing system – may still be discussed.
Schwinn said with the two-tiered bussing plan in which school start times would be staggered, it’s probably too late to implement that plan for next year.
“We’re kind of at that deadline,” he explained. “I kind of see that one off the table for 2010-2011, but it could resurface after that.
If the high school went to a daily schedule instead of using blocks, that would save the district money, but not immediately.
“That can save us money down the road,” Schwinn said. “I have no idea what direction the board will go with that one.”
Schwinn said district officials will likely continue to keep an eye on ways to save money in part, because in addition to a 1 cent sales tax increase, next year’s state budget uses stimulus dollars to maintain base state aid per pupil. That money won’t be available in 2012.
“That’s kind of scary. When that goes away things could get worse. It’s a possible bump coming down the road,” Schwinn said. “I think everybody is hoping by then the economy will finally be going.”