Friday, December 4, 2009

State Budget Challenges Continue: How is the Earlham Community School District Adapting?

I am sure that all who are reading this are aware of the enormous challenges the State of Iowa is experiencing financially. The next Revenue Estimating Conference is planned for the week of December 7-11, but all economic indicators show revenues at the State level continuing to be lower than projected last year. Because of the challenges at the State level, the Earlham Community School District is experiencing budget challenges, as are all school districts in Iowa.

As stated in a previous article, the Governors across-the-board reduction in State Aid equates to a reduction in funding of $290,000 for the Earlham Community School District. In response to this reduction in State Aid, the School Board has approved the following to reduce expenditures for the remainder of the 2009-10 school year:

• Three days of unpaid leave for all administrators and department heads. This includes myself, the building principals, the technology/curriculum director, business manager, head custodian, transportation director and food service director.

• Reduction of one hour per week for all hourly employees. This includes teacher associates, secretaries, custodians and food service. The central office will be closing Tuesday through Friday at 3:45 PM instead of 4:00 PM for the remainder of the school year to accomplish this in part.

• Reduction in out of district professional development when hiring a substitute teacher is required.

• Continued spending freeze on supplies and other nonessential purchases.

• Discontinued purchasing toner for HP6L printers. The plan is to have those staff members print to a networked copy machine when the printer toner is gone. In addition, the district is performing a printing audit to determine other potential savings related to printing/copying.

• Energy conservation is another area that cost savings can be realized. The Energy Committee continues to meet and talk about potential ways to save energy. Although it appears to be a small thing, we are lowering the master temperature in the building.

• Discontinue purchasing of water for the portable building.

• The Board directed me to propose reopening the Master Contract with the Earlham Education Association to discuss possible cost savings measures.

These items alone will not reduce spending the full $290,000 of lost State Aid, but will assist in not requiring additional depletion of the cash reserves. Plans for how to address the 2010-11 school year budget challenges are already underway. I am anxiously awaiting the results of the December Revenue Estimating Conference so that accurate information can be used to plan. Again, I plan to continue to provide financial/budget information to the Earlham Community School District patrons as it becomes available.