Janesville school budget takes next step
-- The Janesville School District's proposed 2009-10 budget will be available to the public at the Hedberg Public Library, 316 S. Main St.; at the office of each school and at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St. It will not be posted online. A budget summary will be published as a legal notice in The Janesville Gazette.
-- The public budget hearing will be held when the board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13.
-- The board must set the tax levy by the end of October.
JANESVILLE Janesville School District administrators have assembled a budget for this school year with no more cuts directly affecting children.
The budget is far from set, however. A public hearing and board discussion are scheduled for October before final approval.
Budget-watchers will recall the board approved cuts last spring but postponed approving a comprehensive budget because so many of the financial details were unknown.
The administration's proposed budget is now ready for public review.
The board received the budget book Tuesday with little or no time to review it before a 6 p.m. meeting. The board did not discuss budget specifics but held a lengthy discussion about whether it had to vote to approve the proposed budget for publication.
State statutes do not require such a vote, although the board's longstanding practice is to do so, said district legal counsel David Moore.
Some board members seemed uncomfortable with approving a budget they hadn't seen, even if it was simply to approve making the document public. In the end, the board decided no vote was necessary, and the administration should publicize the budget as it always has.
Two weeks ago, the board's finance committee instructed the administration to assemble a budget with a tax levy increase of 1.91 percent. That meant filling a $464,434 shortfall.
The board left it to the administration to find ways to fill the gap.
The board did not discuss those ways Tuesday, but a document from district CFO Keith Pennington lists five budget-balancing moves:
-- Use $201,174 from federal stimulus funding.
-- Realize $104,900 in savings from delaying the hiring of an Edison Middle School principal.
-- Reduce custodial and maintenance overtime, $41,000
-- Lower the allocation for employee salary and benefits by $112,136. It was unclear which employees would receive less, but the teachers' contract is now being negotiated.
-- "Other smaller changes," $4,684.
Board member Bill Sodemann drew a line in the sand Tuesday, saying that the state of the local economy calls for no increase in the tax levy, or even a tax reduction.
"How bad do things have to get before we say … no more?" Sodemann asked.
Sodemann said he is worried that the value of commercial properties will drop, leaving homeowners to make up the difference.
That would mean that even if the board sets a zero-increase tax levy, homeowners would still be hit with an increase, Sodemann said.
Board member Tim Cullen countered that the proposed tax increase would mean no increase in the cost of district operations. The tax increase would cover only the rise in the cost of paying off the high school expansion projects.
In May, the school board approved nearly $900,000 in cuts, which included a temporary wage freeze for non-union employees and cutting the manager of buildings and grounds, the district athletics director, a special-education teacher, the director of student services, a central-office clerical position and the position of coordinator of math, science and staff development.
Pennington warned two weeks ago that further cuts would mean losing both fat and muscle.