Budget roller coaster continues for Janesville School District

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010
— The Janesville School Board has jumped out of the budget frying pan and into the fire.

The board recently took a stab at balancing the districtís $114 million budget by making $4 million in cuts.

Then came news that the district and teachers union had come to a tentative settlement, which includes pay raises that will cost about $1 million more than is included in the still-unapproved 2010-2011 budget.

Adding to the problem: Expenses for the districtís self-funded health insurance plan are expected to be about $1 million higher than originally budgeted.

Pennington said the districtís consultants recommended more money for insurance because of a spike in claims last year.

The district had budgeted for a 7 percent increase for insurance. The additional $1 million would mean a 15 percent increase over the 2009-10 level, Pennington said.

Where will the $2 million come from?

District CFO Keith Pennington said the main candidates are:

-- Higher taxes. The board has tentatively agreed to a 3.1 percent increase in the tax levy. The stateís school district revenue cap would allow the board to get up to $3.2 million more from taxpayers, Pennington said.

-- Withdrawal from what has been called the districtís checking account, also known as the Fund 10 balance. The balance includes money not designated for specific spending. The board has reserved much of the $27 million balance to cover unforeseen operating expenses and insurance claims, but the board could change its policy.

-- More budget cuts.

Superintendent Karen Schulte said the board might hold a special meeting next week to discuss the budget and the tentative contract settlement with teachers.

The board has scheduled its annual public hearing on the budget for Sept. 14. As required by law, the budget was published in Mondayís Gazette. However, that budget will have to be revised to account for the new expenses, Pennington said.

The board is allowed to revise the budget before and after the public hearing, Pennington said.

The district recently received word it would receive $1.8 million from the federal Education Jobs Act of 2010, but most of that money has already been allocated. Much of it is designated to eliminate the need for three furlough days for all employees, which was part of the first budget-cutting package.

Furloughs were not part of the tentative teachers contract settlement. Unless negotiations are re-opened, furloughs do not appear to be an option, at least for teachers.

The district remains in negotiations with two other AFSCME units, one representing the custodial, food service and maintenance workers and the other representing secretaries, clerks and aides.

Last updated: 2:35 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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