Janesville69.7°

Despite budget crunch, Edgerton levy could fall

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Stacy Vogel
August 12, 2008
— The Edgerton School District is facing tough times.

Although its three-year average enrollment—the figure used by the state for school funding—is expected to increase this year, the figure probably will start dropping after that. Fewer students means less state aid.


Dropping interest income and unexpected costs are putting a further strain on the budget.


Even so, district taxpayers could see a drop in their tax bills this year. A preliminary budget proposal shows a 1.2 percent drop in the district tax levy and an 8.7 percent drop in the tax rate in 2008-09.


About 20 Edgerton residents, staff and board members approved the proposed budget at Monday’s annual meeting.


The drop comes from a quirk in state revenue limits, said Mark Worthing, district business manager.


By law, the amount of revenue from taxes and state aid the district can collect is limited. Edgerton spent more than it planned last year and probably will see an increase in its average enrollment this year, so it’s expecting more money than usual from the state. Therefore, the amount of money it can collect from residents decreases, Worthing said.


The district cut into its fund balance last year because it received less interest income on its savings and had fewer open-enrollment students than expected, board Treasurer Amy Richardson said.


And even though the district cut its maintenance budget, reduced staffing by 0.75 positions and didn’t include budget money for new textbooks or technology this year, it expects to deplete the fund even more in 2008-09.


The district predicts the fund will drop to $1.1 million at the end of the year. Board policy recommends a fund balance of at least $1.5 million.


That means the district will have to make painful cuts in coming years, Superintendent Norm Fjelstad told the board.


“We have to stop the bleeding,” he said. “And that will likely be very painful for our staff and possibly parents ... It will probably mean layoffs.”


The pain will be felt most at the high school, where enrollment is expected to drop by nearly 20 percent in the next four years. The district has estimated the high school will have to cut 12 positions by 2011-12.


At the board’s next meeting, Fjelstad and high school Associate Principal Clark Bretthauer will offer suggestions to achieve some of those cuts. In the past, discussions have included:


-- Switching from a four-period day to an eight-period day.


-- Introducing study halls.


-- Reducing Advanced Placement offerings.


-- Reducing graduation requirements.


Fjelstad hopes the meeting will spark discussion among staff, board members and residents over the next few months, he said. He will present his official recommendations next spring, unless the board requests them earlier.


“The whole idea for this, philosophically, is to give people the chance for input before the recommendations,” he said.


IF YOU GO

What: Edgerton School Board meeting to discuss future cuts.


When: 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25.


Where: School district office, 200 Elm High Drive.


PROPOSED BUDGET

A look at the proposed 2008-09 budget for the Edgerton School District:


Total budget


Next year: $20.5 million


This year: $20 million


Increase: 2.7%


Tax levy


Next year: $7.8 million


This year: $7.9 million


Decrease: 1.2%


Tax rate


(Per $1,000 of equalized valuation)


Next year: $7.56


This year: $8.28


Decrease: 8.7%


Note: Percent changes calculated on whole numbers.



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